SAH Archipedia uses terms from the Getty Art and Architecture Thesaurus (AAT) to categorize and classify metadata for the entries in the database. For more information on the Getty AAT, click here

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Maclura pomifera (species)

Species of small deciduous tree or large shrub belonging to the mulberry family, Moraceae, typically growing to 8-15 m (26-49 ft) tall. It is dioeceous, with male and female flowers on different plants. The multiple fruit is bumpy and spherical, 7-15 cm in diameter, filled with a sticky white latex sap. In fall, it turns a bright yellow-green color and has a faint odor similar to that of oranges.

magnesian limestone

Limestone containing the combined carbonate of lime and magnesium, and frequently used for building.


White to bluish gray mineral,. It is used in the manufacture of brick and as an ore of magnesium.


Pure metallic element having the symbol Mg and atomic number 12; the lightest metal that is stable under ordinary conditions, silvery white in color. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.

Magnolia grandiflora (species)

Species of large evergreen tree, reaching over 25 meters in height, native to the southeastern United States, from coastal Virginia south to central Florida, and west to eastern Texas and Oklahoma. It has been widely cultivated with over 100 varieties worldwide, prized for its large dark green leaves and large white fragrant flowers. The wood from the tree is used for furniture, veneer, and other items.

mahogany (wood)

Refers to the wood of trees of the genus Swietenia, found in tropical climates, primarily in Mexico, Cuba, Central America, and the West Indies. It varies in color from yellow to a rich red brown, and is valued in furniture-making and sculpture-carving because it is hard, fine-grained, and takes a high polish. Mahogany has a fine, straight grain that takes a high polish. It is dimensionally stable and does not shrink, warp, or swell. The durable, dark reddish-brown wood was imported to Europe in the 18th century where it became popular for furniture, paneling and veneer. Ammonia brings out a rich, red color in mahogany wood. Mahogany is frequently attacked by pinhole borer beetles. Many woods of similar colors have also been called mahoganies, but usually do not have rich color or fine cutting characteristics of the true mahogany wood. However, the related African genus Khaya produces a similar wood. Mahogany was used by Chippendale, Hepplewhite, and the Adam brothers for high quality furniture.

makore (wood)

Acidic wood of the species Tieghemella heckelii, reddish to purplish-brown in color, typically with straight grain and dark streaks. It is used for furniture, cabinet work, joinery, decorative veneers, panelling, boat building, flooring, turnery, carving, pianos, and other musical instruments.

man-made hydrographic features

Features that contain water and are man-made rather than natural.


Pure metallic element having symbol Mn and atomic number 25; hard, brittle, silvery metal. Use also for this metal as processed and formed, usually in combination with other substances, to make various objects and materials.

Mankato stone

A compact, semi-crystalline magnesian limestone from Minnesota, ranging in color from buff, cream, yellow, gray, pink, or reddish buff. It is commonly used for building as well as for decoration.

maple (wood)

Wood of trees belonging to the genus Acer, light reddish brown in color, with small pores, distinct rings, and rays that show as fine dashes in quarter sawed wood. Maple wood is used for fine furniture, cabinetry, flooring, shoe lasts, and musical instruments.

No description is available for this term.

marble (rock)

A metamorphic, hard, dense, crystalline stone primarily composed of calcium carbonate; it is limestone or dolomite that has been metamorphosed with heat and pressure. Pure calcite marble is white, but impurities produce a wide variety of coloring and patterns. It is finely grained and polishes to a smooth, high gloss. It is used primarily for statuary and buildings. Marble has been quarried from sites around the world since at least the 7th century BCE. The term can also refer more broadly to any crystallized carbonate rock, including true marble and certain types of limestone, that will take a polish and can be used for architectural and ornamental purposes.


Calcareous clay containing up to 40% calcium carbonate.


Cantilevered or suspended roofs over the entrances to buildings, of metal or metal and glass; in the 19th and 20th centuries, common over the entrances to theaters, casinos, and hotels to advertise entertainment. For smaller, often ornamental, rooflike structures at entrances, use "canopies (structural elements)."

Mars brown (color)

A range of brownish colors resembling the color of the synthetic iron oxide pigment known as "Mars brown."

Masonite (TM)

A registered trademark for a type of hardboard building material first made in 1924 by William H. Mason. Masonite is a wet process fiberboard composed of fine wood fibers compressed into a dense, rigid sheet with heat. The fibers are held together by the natural binders from the pulp with no additional adhesive. Masonite boards do not bend or warp easily but the sheets are brittle and break under pressure.

masonry (building materials)

Building materials comprising cut, carved, shaped, or molded units of stone, ceramic brick or tile, concrete, glass, adobe, or other similar material.

masonry units

Refers generally to any naturally occurring or manufactured building units composed of concrete, glass, stone, or other material.

mastic (resin)

Gum exudation of small evergreens native to the Mediterranean countries, soluble in both alcohol and turpentine; used for artists' paint and coating lacquer. Mastic varnish becomes yellow and brittle with age. Mastic was used in 16th and 17th century recipes for oil-resin varnishes; in the 19th century, mastic was a popular clear, glossy spirit varnish for oil paintings and was also used as an additive in oil medium. By the 20th century, its use was superseded by dammar.

matting (roofing material)

Roof covering composed of woven material such as coir, bast, hemp, or grass.


Large open tracts of grassland, sometimes used for pasture.

medium-density fiberboard

Fiberboard that is typically made of wood fibers that are acquired by breaking down scrap remnants of hardwood or softwood; distinguished from low-density fiberboard and high-density fiberboard by density of fiber and strength.


Material in the form of a thin soft pliable sheet or layer.


Material in the form of threads or cords that surround the interstices of a net, netting, screen, or sieve, including any woven, knitted, or knotted material with an open texture and evenly spaced holes, including textiles and interlocking metal links. The size of a net or screen may refer to the spaces rather than to the threads that bound the spaces, for example, indicated by the number of openings per inch or another linear unit.


Any of a large group of substances that typically show a characteristic luster, are good conductors of electricity and heat, are opaque, can be fused, and are usually malleable or ductile.

metal panels
No description is available for this term.

metallic paint

Paint in which the pigment is a metal.

metalwork (visual works)

Visual works that are the products of working any kind of metal, particularly metal objects of artistic merit.

metamorphic rock

Rocks that result from the alteration of pre-existing rocks in response to changing environmental conditions, such as variations in temperature, pressure, and mechanical stress, and the addition or subtraction of chemical components. The pre-existing rocks may be igneous, sedimentary, or other metamorphic rocks.

mica (mineral)

Group of monoclinic minerals with perfect basal cleavage.

micaceous sandstone

Sandstone containing mica.

Milford granite

A coarse biotite granite, quarried in Milford, Massachusetts, composed mostly of light pink feldspar with additions of gray quartz and dark, greenish-black flecks of a chloritic black mica. It is very strong, takes a high polish, and has a fine and close texture, making it one of the most desirable granites quarried in the U.S. for general building as well as decorative purposes.


Planed and patterned lumber for finish work in buildings, including items such as sash, doors, cornices, panelwork, and other items of interior or exterior trim. Does not include flooring, ceiling, or siding.


Naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties; use also for synthetically derived equivalents.

mineral oil

A colorless, aliphatic hydrocarbon oil obtained from petroleum distilled at 330-360 degrees C.

modular brick

Bricks which can be laid to modular dimensions; bricks sized so that the brick plus the mortar joint will form a 4, 8 or 12 inch increment, or module.


Long, lustrous hair of the Angora goat, valued for its strength and excellent spinning qualities.

moist conifer and evergreen broad-leaved forests

Temperate forests of conifer and evergreen broad-leaved trees, located in areas having wet winters and dry summers; rainfall is concentrated in the winter months and winters are relatively mild.

molded brick

Brick molded to a selected shape before firing and subsequently used to make ornamental architectural details.

molding plaster

Calcined gypsum ground fine fine so as to bring out dteails ornamental trim, cornices, and cast work.

Monel (TM)

Alloy composed of about 67% nickel, 28% copper, and 5% other elements such as iron.

monkeypod (wood)

Wood of the species Samanea saman, of the legume family.


Refers to a single large block of stone shaped into a pillar, column, sculpture or other item. For modern structural elements composed of cast concrete, use "concrete monolith."

monumental stone

Stone, generally of impressive bulk or size, used for erecting any variety of monument, but particularly for tombs or tombstones. The term can also refer to stone used to carve monumental statuary or for constructing monumental architecture.

mortar (filler)

A pasty building material that sets to form a hard, infusible solid. Most mortars are mixtures of lime, plaster of Paris, or cement with sand and water. It is used to fill the joints of brick and stone masonry and for other purposes.

mortise-and-tenon joints

Joints made when connecting two pieces of wood where a projecting tongue (tenon) of one piece is made to fit into the corresponding cutout (mortise) in the other piece.

mosaic (process)

A method of decorating surfaces with patterns or pictures composed of small, regularly-shaped pieces of colored durable material, such as stone or glass.

mosaic glass

Glass made with slices of colored canes which can be used as inlays for walls and furniture, fashioned into beads and various kinds of jewelry, or arranged in molds and fused together to form vessels. Distinguished from "millefiori glass" which is glass made with slices of colored canes embedded in clear molten glass, usually creating flowerlike designs.

mosaics (visual works)

Images or patterns composed of small, regularly shaped pieces of durable material, usually stone or colored glass. Distinguished from "opus sectile," which is composed of individually shaped pieces of durable material, usually stone or glass, which conform to the design or pattern.

mother of pearl

Hard, pearly, iridescent internal layer of various kinds of mollusk shell, extensively used for making small articles and inlays.


Soil containing so much water that it is soft and at least semi-fluid.

mud mortar

Building material used for joining elements that is composed of an earth and water mixture. Mud mortar is prone to erosion, and is most effective in warm, dry climates.


A mixture of various formulations used in vernacular architecture as a wall finish.


Slender, vertical, usually nonstructural bars or piers forming a division between doors, screens, or lights of windows; for the small members that divide glazing areas and support the panes or the verticals that separate the panels in panel doors, use "muntins."

mural painting (image-making)

The activity of composing and executing painted decorations or scenes that dominate a wall or ceiling surface.

mural paintings (visual works)

Painted decorations or scenes that dominate a wall (or ceiling) surface. For works in other media that dominate a wall (or ceiling), use the more general term "murals (any medium)".

murals (general, decorations on wall)

Refers to decorations in any medium that dominate a wall (or ceiling) surface; most often refers to works executed on the wall, but may also refer to works done separately and affixed to the wall. For paintings specifically, see "mural paintings."

muscovite (mica)

A colorless or pale brown mica; it has superior dielectric properties and is valued for radio capacitators.

Myrtales (order)

Order of flowering plants composed of 14 families, 380 genera, and about 11,000 species distributed throughout the tropics and warmer regions of the world.

myrtle (wood)

The wood of evergreen shrubs or small trees of the genus Myrtus.