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

transitive verb

: to add honor to
decorated commerce with the splendid virtues of honor and loyaltyGeoffrey Household
: to furnish with something ornamental
decorate a room with artwork
decorating the Christmas tree
: 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
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 The Fox Hill Trading Acrylic Coffee Table caught our eye because of its wide 21-inch tabletop, which offers plenty of space for decorating and entertaining. Andrea Wurzburger, Better Homes & Gardens, 27 Feb. 2024 Each color, each flower represents a message of good tidings and good luck for the new year and are used as gifts and to decorate homes for the holiday. Heather McRea, Orange County Register, 25 Feb. 2024 Waddingham, 49, carried a cardboard clutch bag with her for the Saturday night ceremony, and it was decorated with plenty of rainbow colors. Hedy Phillips, Peoplemag, 25 Feb. 2024 Inflatable chopstick? — and Elaine Welteroth, who gave us a look at hot fashion of SAG Awards past before kicking things off with Ali Wong wearing a black and white number decorated by what looked like a bunch of artisanal paper snowflakes. Meredith Blake, Los Angeles Times, 25 Feb. 2024 Unlike typical quartz watches, this model showcases the movement through an exhibition caseback, highlighting its rose gold plating and high-horology finishing, like the engraved battery bridge decorated with Cotes de Genève and beveled and polished screw heads. Cait Bazemore, Robb Report, 23 Feb. 2024 Keal kept hearing from people who wanted to decorate, but were afraid of getting in trouble with their landlord. Rachel Kurzius, Washington Post, 22 Feb. 2024 Some of them are people whose homes he’s decorated, like married couple Michael and Brooke, who have spent the last several years slowly expanding their Greenwich Village one-bedroom. Elise Taylor, Vogue, 21 Feb. 2024 There are no plants or decoration in the tank, and the apartment itself is sparsely decorated. Leo Barraclough, Variety, 21 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'decorate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

1530, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of decorate was in 1530

Dictionary Entries Near decorate

Cite this Entry

“Decorate.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


dec·​o·​rate ˈdek-ə-ˌrāt How to pronounce decorate (audio)
decorated; decorating
: to make more attractive by adding something that is beautiful or becoming
decorate a room
: to award a decoration of honor to
decorate a soldier for bravery

More from Merriam-Webster on decorate

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