Glossary of Pottery Terms

Glossaire Lexique de la Poterie

Fun fact #1:

My first pottery class was in Arabic. I took the class as an afternoon activity when I was a 5th grader at the Lycée Français du Caire in Cairo, Egypt.

What got me hooked? Going to see a potter make Egyptian style carved pots during a week-long field trip to an oasis (we visited both Kharga and Dakhla) with the entire 5th grade -- one of the most impactful trips of my childhood.

My first pottery words were in Arabic, the most important of which is fakhaar, or pottery.

When I moved to the US and deepened my learning of the ceramic arts in high school, my ceramics vocabulary was all in English.

Fun fact #2:

Growing up, I spoke French. Since I was not exposed to ceramics in the French language in my early years, besides 'la poterie', I didn't know French pottery terms. Teaching at a bilingual French-English school inspired me to finally learn pottery terminology in French.

Which brings us to....the creation of a glossary of English-French pottery terms! I am grateful to the former head of the French department for proofreading and offering suggestions.

If you have any additions, recommendations, etc, please let me know.

Glossary of Pottery Terms

Glossaire Lexique de la Poterie


Occupations - Métiers


Artist - Artiste

Ceramicist - Céramiste

Craftsperson - Artisan

Kiln tech - Chauffeur

Potter - Potier / potière

Sculptor - Sculpteur / Sculpteuse / Sculpteure

Student - Étudiant.e

Teacher - Enseignant.e

Wheel-thrower - Tourneur


What do potters do? - Que font les potiers?


Centering clay on the wheel - Centrage

Coil-building - Fabriquer par colombinage

Finishing pieces - Finissage

Hand-building - Fabriquer à la main

Make pottery - Faire de la poterie

Press-molding (slump or hump) - Estampage

Slab-building - Fabriquer par plaques

Slip-casting - Coulage en barbotine

Throw pots - Tourner des pots

To clean - Nettoyer

To trim - Tournasser

Wedging - Pétrir

Wheel-throwing - Tournage


Workshop Tools - Outils de l’atelier


Bat - Rondeau

Bucket - Seau

Banding wheel - Tournette

Calipers - Compas

Chuck - Mandrin

Cut-off wire - Fil à couper / fil en fer

Fettling knife - Couteau de potier

Loop tool - Mirette

Mold - Moule

Paint brush - Pinceau

Pintool / needle tool - Aiguille

Potter’s wheel - Tour de potier

Rib (wood or metal) - Estèque (bois ou métal)

Rolling pin - Rouleau à pâte

Ruler - Règle

Scale - Balance

Splash pan - Garde-boue

Sponge - Éponge

Tongs - Des pinces

Trimming tool - Tournassin

Wedging table - Dalle to pétrissage

Wheel - Girelle

Wooden knife - Couteau de bois

Wooden modeling tool - Ébauchoir


Clay - Argile


Air bubbles - Des bulles d’air

Bisque - Biscuit

Bone dry - Sèche

Coil - Colombin

Low fire bisque - Dégourdi

Dust - Poussière

Earthenware - Faïence

Grog - Chamotte

Leather hard - Consistance du cuir

Plasticity - Plastique

Porcelain - Porcelaine

Slab - Plaque

Slip - Barbotine

Stoneware - Grès

Thick - Épais(se)

Thin - Mince


The Kiln - Le Four


Cone - Cône

Cracks - Fissures

Explosion - Une explosion

Firing - Cuisson

Fill a kiln - Encastage

Pinhole - Coque d’oeuf / gerçure

To candle - Préchauffer

To cool - Refroidir

To fire - Cuire

To load - Remplir

Shelf - Tablette

Stilt - Pilier


Glazing - Émaillage


Crawled - Retiré(e)

Crazed - Trésaillé(e)

Dip glazing - Trempage

Food safe - sans risque pour l’alimentation

Glaze - Émail

Glossy - Brillant

Matt - Mate

Metal oxides - Oxydes métalliques

Opaque - Opaque

Speckled - Tacheté(e)

Transparent - Transparente

Underglaze - Sous-glaçure

Unglazed - Non-émaillé(e)

Wax resist - Réserve à la cire


Decorations - Décorations


Devil’s work (Linglong, guigong) - Linglong

Kintsugi - Kintsugi (jointure en or)

Mishima - Mishima

Sgraffito - Sgraffite

To imprint - Empreinter

To stamp - Tamponner


Types of pots - Types de pots


Bottle - Bouteille

Bowl - Bol

Coil pot - Pot par colombins

Cup - Tasse

Flower pot - Pot à fleurs / vase

Functional pottery - Poterie utilitaire

Gobelet - Gobelet / Coupe

Pinch pot - Pot par la méthode d’amincissement

Plate - Assiette

Platter - Plat

Pot - Pot

Tray - Plateau


Parts of a pot - Parties d’un pot


Base - Base

Body - Le corps d’un pot

Foot - Pied

Handle - Anse

Lid - Couvercle

Lip - Lèvre

Mouth - Embouchure

Neck - Col

Rim - Bord

Shoulder - Épaule

Spout - Bec

Wall - Mur