A ceramic is a solid material comprising an inorganic compound of metal, non-metal or metalloid atoms primarily held in ionic and covalent bonds. Common examples are earthenware, porcelain, and brick.
The earliest ceramics made by humans were pottery objects (i.e. pots or vessels) or figurines made from clay, either by itself or mixed with other materials like silica, hardened and sintered in fire. Later ceramics were glazed and fired to create smooth, colored surfaces, decreasing porosity through the use of glassy, amorphous ceramic coatings on top of the crystalline ceramic substrates.
The word "ceramic" comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos), "of pottery" or "for pottery", from κέραμος (keramos), "potter's clay, tile, pottery". The earliest known mention of the root "ceram-" is the Mycenaean Greekke-ra-me-we, "workers of ceramics", written in Linear B syllabic script. The word "ceramic" may be used as an adjective to describe a material, product or process, or it may be used as a noun, either singular, or, more commonly, as the plural noun "ceramics".