AskDefine | Define inlay

Dictionary Definition



1 (dentistry) a filling consisting of a solid substance (as gold or porcelain) fitted to a cavity in a tooth and cemented into place
2 a decoration made by fitting pieces of wood into prepared slots in a surface v : decorate the surface of by inserting wood, stone, and metal [also: inlaid]

User Contributed Dictionary



Combination of in + lay.

Pronunciation 1


  1. The material placed within a different material in the form of a decoration.
a material placed within another material as decoration.
Derived terms

Pronunciation 2


  1. To place pieces of a foreign material within another material to form a decorative design.

Extensive Definition

Inlay is a decorative technique of inserting pieces of coloured materials into depressions in a base object to form patterns or pictures. Inlays commonly use wood veneer, but other materials like shells and niello may also be used.
Inlay differs from marquetry, a similar technique, in that marquetry is applied over an entire surface of an object, whereas inlay consists of small pieces inserted into cut spaces in the base material.
Inlay is commonly used in production of decorative furniture, where pieces of coloured wood or metal are inserted into the veneer. Lutherie inlays are frequently used as decoration and marking on musical instruments, particularly the smaller strings.
The most famous example of furniture inlay in Europe may be the late 15th century Studiolo made for Federico da Montefeltro in his Ducal Palace at Urbino, in which trompe-l'oeil shelving seems to carry books, papers, curios and mathematical instruments, in eye-deceiving perspective. A similar private study made at Gubbio is now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
inlay in Dutch: Marqueterie

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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