My question is best illustrated with an image:

enter image description here

What is a good adjective or adverb to describe that kind of pattern, which brings out that normally or perhaps ideally you would have a solid piece of the material covering the whole area but here you have small fragments of it which together cover the area?

I understand that the company rule here is that when asking such a question one must post an example sentence in which the desired word might appear. Here is one such:

"Mary had a(n) *****-tiled floor".

It does not matter so much whether the object is really made of a material or is only made to seem as if it is. For example, one might have the type of pattern shown above in mock stone, perhaps using linoleum, rather than in a tile that is made of actual stone, but for the purposes of this question that is neither here nor there.

  • 1
    Do you know about "mosaic"?
    – Conrado
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:33
  • @Conrado - I don't know a lot about mosaics. There may well be a suitable adjective or adverb that denotes a specific kind of mosaic. Thanks for the link. I see that some call the pattern shown here a type of mosaic, so this is encouraging.
    – user438135
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:41
  • A mosaic pattern is not necessarily an actual mosaic. The sidewalks of Copacabana beach are mosaics made with stone. 123rf.com/…
    – Lambie
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:58

4 Answers 4


It is called terrazzo:

a floor or wall finish made by setting marble or other stone chips into a layer of mortar and polishing the surface.


The style was first used in Venice (Italy) where it is called ‘terrazzo alla veneziana”.

enter image description here

From: floornature.it/ceramic-innovation


mosaic (adj.)

Of, relating to, produced by, or resembling a mosaic m-w

mosaic (n.)

A surface decoration made by inlaying small pieces of variously colored material to form pictures or patterns m-w

While terrazzo was derived from mosaic, the main difference between them lies in the pattern. Mosaic involves placing individual pieces in a decorative pattern of choice and then filling in the empty areas. By contrast, in terrazzo, we have smaller pieces thrown haphazardly into a base to prepare an even surface.

enter image description here
Can you tell the difference? "Mosaic vs Terrazzo: The Battle of the Tiles"

Producing Mosaic Countertops

enter image description here

Mosaic tile flooring can feature a design or can be random:

enter image description here

  • 2
    Try terrazzo.
    – Xanne
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:42
  • @Xanne See the explanation above for the difference
    – DjinTonic
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 21:57

It might be described as mosaic. A typical definition is:


A mosaic is a pattern or image made of small regular or irregular pieces of colored stone, glass or ceramic, held in place by plaster/mortar, and covering a surface.

However, much depends on the meaning of pattern:


pattern: any regularly repeated arrangement, especially a design made from repeated lines, shapes, or colours on a surface

In your example there is no picture and there is no regular pattern because of the randomness of the pieces. It might therefore be argued that the flooring, being irregular and having no pattern, is not so much a mosaic as a conglomerate.

See, for similar flooring examples using the word conglomerate:



Stone Contact

The term comes from geology:


Geology, mass noun:
A coarse-grained sedimentary rock composed of rounded fragments embedded in a matrix of cementing material such as silica.

the sediments vary from coarse conglomerate to fine silt and clay

I also commend the use of terrazzo as in your question and in a comment.

Merriam Webster

a mosaic flooring consisting of small pieces of marble or granite set in mortar and given a high polish




  1. the act, process, or art of coloring or staining in imitation of variegated marble.
  2. an appearance like that of variegated marble.
  3. the intermixture of fat with lean in a cut of meat, which contributes to flavor and tenderness.
  4. Bookbinding. marblelike decoration on the paper edges, lining, or binding boards of a book.

Some examples of patterns described as 'marbling' here.

  • This is a reasonable suggestion, easily substantiated in online research. Although the adjective would be "marbled", I have upvoted to remove the unexplained downvote.
    – Anton
    Commented Feb 16, 2022 at 22:29

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