dec·​o·​rate | \ ˈde-kə-ˌrāt How to pronounce decorate (audio) \
decorated; decorating

Definition of decorate

transitive verb

1 : to add honor to decorated commerce with the splendid virtues of honor and loyalty— Geoffrey Household
2 : to furnish with something ornamental decorate a room with artwork decorating the Christmas tree
3 : to award a mark of honor to a soldier decorated for valor highly decorated war veterans

intransitive verb

: to furnish something with ornamentation decorating for the party

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for decorate

adorn, decorate, ornament, embellish, beautify, deck, garnish mean to enhance the appearance of something by adding something unessential. adorn implies an enhancing by something beautiful in itself. a diamond necklace adorned her neck decorate suggests relieving plainness or monotony by adding beauty of color or design. decorate a birthday cake ornament and embellish imply the adding of something extraneous, ornament stressing the heightening or setting off of the original a white house ornamented with green shutters , embellish often stressing the adding of superfluous or adventitious ornament. embellish a page with floral borders beautify adds to embellish a suggestion of counterbalancing plainness or ugliness. will beautify the grounds with flower beds deck implies the addition of something that contributes to gaiety, splendor, or showiness. a house all decked out for Christmas garnish suggests decorating with a small final touch and is used especially in referring to the serving of food. an entrée garnished with parsley

Examples of decorate in a Sentence

I always enjoy decorating the Christmas tree. I decorated my apartment in dark colors.
Recent Examples on the Web On the west wall, a small 1948 Josef Albers painting that hangs over the fireplace serves as the space’s only splash of color; nearby, an ornate Carlo Bugatti Mosque chair and a 1926 rosewood-and-parchment secretaire decorate a niche. New York Times, "A Manhattan Apartment That Pays Tribute to the City’s Jazz Age," 18 Feb. 2021 Family pictures, fitness schedules, sticky notes, and birthday balloons decorate the computer terminals inside the FAA Civil Aviation Registry’s public documents room in Oklahoma City., "Secrets in the sky," 13 Jan. 2021 Participants can decorate their home themselves, or contract with local Mardi Gras artists, many of whom have lost their livelihood because of the pandemic. Matt Haines,, "New Orleans' plans for an unusual Mardi Gras take shape," 4 Jan. 2021 As noted above, a record-breaking nine holiday songs decorate the Hot 100's top 10, after a then-high six did a week ago. Gary Trust, Billboard, "Mariah Carey's 'Christmas' Back Atop Hot 100, As Dean Martin, Wham! & Chuck Berry Hit Top 10," 28 Dec. 2020 People decorate their carts with party regalia and then take their turn in line to drive past the hospital, senior center or the home of the special person. Annie Lane, oregonlive, "Dear Annie: Readers share alternatives to party balloons," 23 Dec. 2020 My parents continued to love Christmas, and my brother and I still decorate our homes within an inch of their lives, inside and out. Los Angeles Times, "Column: The worst Christmas I ever had was the one that changed my life," 23 Dec. 2020 People decorate their carts with party regalia and then take their turn in line to drive past the hospital, senior center or the home of the special person. cleveland, "Dear Annie: Alternative ways to celebrate a special event," 22 Dec. 2020 Once the triangles are cut, decorate them with pre-lit garland, ornaments, and paint. Kelly Allen, House Beautiful, ""Sweet Magnolias" Star JoAnna Garcia Swisher Shares How to Turn Cardboard Boxes Into a Christmas Tree Village," 17 Dec. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'decorate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of decorate

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

History and Etymology for decorate

Latin decoratus, past participle of decorare, from decor-, decus ornament, honor — more at decent

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about decorate

Time Traveler for decorate

Time Traveler

The first known use of decorate was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Statistics for decorate

Last Updated

2 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Decorate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLA Chicago APA Merriam-Webster

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for decorate



English Language Learners Definition of decorate

: to make (something) more attractive usually by putting something on it
: to give a medal or award to (someone, such as a soldier)


dec·​o·​rate | \ ˈde-kə-ˌrāt How to pronounce decorate (audio) \
decorated; decorating

Kids Definition of decorate

1 : to make more attractive by adding beautiful or festive things We decorated the room with flowers.
2 : to award a badge of honor to The soldier was decorated for bravery.

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on decorate

What made you want to look up decorate? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

February 2021 Words of the Day Quiz

  • squirrel in winter
  • Which is a synonym of perdure?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!