POR'CELAIN, n. [L. portulaca.] 1. The finest species of earthen ware, originally manufactured in China and Japan, but now made in several European countries. All earthen wares which are white and semi-transparent, are called porcelains, but they differ much in their fineness and beauty. The porcelain of China is said to be made of two species of earth, the petuntse, which is fusible, and the kaolin, which is not fusible, or not with the degree of heat which fuses the petuntse, and that in porcelain the substances are only semi-vitrified, or one substance only is vitrified, the other not. Hence it is concluded that porcelain is an intermediate substance between earth and glass. Hence the second degree of fusibility, of which emollescence is the first, is called by Kirwan the porcelain state. 2. The plant called purslain, which see.
nounEtymology: Middle French porcelaine cowrie shell, porcelain, from Italian porcellana, from porcello vulva, literally, little pig, from Latin porcellus, diminutive of porcus pig, vulva; from the shape of the shell — more at farrowDate: circa 1530 1. a hard, fine-grained, sonorous, nonporous, and usually translucent and white ceramic ware that consists essentially of kaolin, quartz, and a feldspathic rock and is fired at a high temperature — called also hard-paste porcelain, true porcelain2.soft-paste porcelain • porcelainlikeadjective • porcelaneousor porcellaneousadjective
n. 1 a hard vitrified translucent ceramic. 2 objects made of this. Phrases and idioms: porcelain clay kaolin. porcelain-shell cowrie. Derivatives: porcellaneous adj. porcellanous adj. Etymology: F porcelaine cowrie, porcelain f. It. porcellana f. porcella dimin. of porca sow (a cowrie being perh. likened to a sow's vulva) f. L porca fem. of porcus pig
Porcelain Por"ce*lain (277), n. [F. porcelaine, It. porcellana, orig., the porcelain shell, or Venus shell (Cypr[ae]a porcellana), from a dim. fr. L. porcus pig, probably from the resemblance of the shell in shape to a pig's back. Porcelain was called after this shell, either on account of its smoothness and whiteness, or because it was believed to be made from it. See Pork.] A fine translucent or semitransculent kind of earthenware, made first in China and Japan, but now also in Europe and America; -- called also China, or China ware. Porcelain, by being pure, is apt to break. --Dryden. Ivory porcelain, porcelain with a surface like ivory, produced by depolishing. See Depolishing. Porcelain clay. See under Clay. Porcelain crab (Zo["o]l.), any crab of the genus Porcellana and allied genera (family Porcellanid[ae]). They have a smooth, polished carapace. Porcelain jasper. (Min.) See Porcelanite. Porcelain printing, the transferring of an impression of an engraving to porcelain. Porcelain shell (Zo["o]l.), a cowry.
(porcelains) 1. Porcelain is a hard, shiny substance made by heating clay. It is used to make delicate cups, plates, and ornaments. There were lilies everywhere in tall white porcelain vases.N-UNCOUNT 2. A porcelain is an ornament that is made of porcelain. You can refer to a number of such ornaments as porcelain. ...a priceless collection of English porcelain.N-VAR