The word "ceramic" comes from the Greek word κεραμικός (keramikos), "of pottery" or "for pottery", from κέραμος (keramos), "potter's clay, tile, pottery"
[source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceramic ].
It is an inorganic, nonmetallic solid prepared by the action of heat and subsequent cooling. Ceramic materials can be crystalline or can be amorphous like glass.
The earliest known use of ceramics was for making pottery with clay alone or mixing with other materials. The objects were then hardened in fire and glazed to create a colored, smooth surface.
Engineering ceramic structural parts provide greater strength, are light in weight and corrosion resistant and hence, best suited for applications at extremely high temperatures and in highly corrosive environments. Ceramic engine components permit efficient burning of fuel at higher temperatures and eliminate the need of a cooling system. Other uses include making of cutting tools, valves, bearings and chemical- processing equipment. In the electronic industry, ceramic materials are used for making chips, superconductors, magnets, capacitors and transducers.
Ceramic is cheap due to the abundance of its raw materials. Being brittle, ceramic is reinforced with fibers or whiskers to increase ductility and toughness.
Today, by the development of advanced engineering, ceramics is used not only in making traditional art objects but also in industries like aerospace, mining, medicine, etc.
e.g. The properties of ceramics make it most suitable for applications in aerospace industry. The figure shows the Simulation of the outside of the Space Shuttle as it heats up to over 1,500 °C (2,730 °F) during re-entry into the Earth's atmosphere.