Art history glossary - grades 9-10

You will see all of the words below in your Art History test. You may already know some or all of these words but if you donít, here are the definitions.

These words will not give you the answers to the questions but they will help you to understand the questions.

If you donít understand the English definition of these words, look them up before the test in your own language.

You will be allowed to bring this word list into the test with you.

TIP: You might know someone who is also taking this test and who speaks the same first language as you. Why not suggest that you divide this list between you, each look up half the words and then give each other your definitions? It would save a lot of time!


according to in a way that depends on differences in situations or amounts
architect someone whose job is to design buildings
axis a line drawn across the middle of a regular shape that divides it into two equal parts
bands thin strips which split or separate an image into different levels or parts, like in a cartoon strip
bench a long seat for two or more people, especially outdoors
burial the act or ceremony of putting a dead body into a grave often in the ground
cast to make an object by pouring liquid metal, plastic etc into a mould (=hollow container)
chest the front part of your body between your neck and your stomach
columns a tall solid upright stone post used to support a building or as a decoration
culture the beliefs, way of life, art, and customs that are shared and accepted by people in a particular society
decipher to find the meaning of something that is difficult to read or understand
idealised to imagine or represent something or someone as being perfect or better than they really are (Ďidealizedí in American English)
image a picture or shape of a person or thing that is copied onto paper or is cut in wood or stone
imaginary not real, but produced from pictures or ideas in your mind
inhabit if animals or people inhabit an area or place, they live there
jar a container made of clay, stone etc used especially in the past for keeping food or drink in
layers an amount or piece of a material or substance that covers a surface or that is between two other things
limestone a type of rock that contains calcium
lungs one of the two organs in your body that you breathe with
melt if something solid melts or if heat melts it, it becomes liquid
mirror (image) an image of something in which the right side appears on the left, and the left side appears on the right
mummification to preserve a dead body by putting special oils on and salts on it then wrapping it with cloth
object a solid thing that you can hold, touch, or see but that is not alive
overhanging to hang over something or stick out above it
palette a board or surface that an artist uses to mix paints
pictorial using or relating to paintings, drawings, or photographs
platform a tall structure built so that people can stand or work above the surrounding area
portrait a painting, drawing, or photograph of a person
pour to make a liquid or other substance flow out of or into a container by holding it at an angle
preserve to save something or someone from being harmed or destroyed and to make it continue without changing
pyramid a large stone building with four triangular (=three-sided) walls that slope in to a point at the top, especially in Egypt and central America
recent having happened or started only a short time ago
relationship the way in which two or more things are connected and affect each other
sand a substance consisting of very small pieces of rocks and minerals that forms beaches and deserts
shallow  measuring only a short distance from the top to the bottom [opposite of deep]
silicate one of a group of common solid mineral substances that exist naturally in the earth
small scale an art work which is small in size
soul the part of a person that is not physical, and that contains their character, thoughts, and feelings. many people believe that a person's soul continues to exist after they have died
spirit a creature without a physical body that some people believe exists, such as an angel or a dead person, who has returned to this world and has strange or magical powers [same as ghost]
split to separate into parts also split up - to divide or separate something into different parts or groups, or to be divided into different parts or groups
statue an image of a person or animal that is made in solid material such as stone or metal and is usually large [same as sculpture]
statuette a very small statue that can be put on a table or shelf
storage when you keep or put something in a special place while it is not being used
structure something that has been built, especially something large such as a building or a bridge
supernatural impossible to explain by natural causes, and therefore seeming to involve the powers of gods or magic
temple a building where people go to worship, in the Jewish, Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh, and Mormon religions
text anything that is written
timber wood used for building or making things [= lumber American English]
to bury to put someone who has died in a grave often in the ground
to print to make a mark on a surface or in a soft substance by pressing something on to it
tomb a stone structure above or below the ground where a dead person is buried
tonal values relating to tones of colour or sound
unification the act of combining two or more groups, countries etc to make a single group or country
varnish a clear liquid that is painted onto things, especially things made of wood, to protect them, or the hard shiny surface produced by this
wax a solid substance made of fat or oil and used to make candles, polish etc
worship to show respect and love for a god, especially by praying in a religious building