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 grave of each veteran in the park will be also decorated with a white cross and miniature flag. Heather McRea, Orange County Register, 21 May 2024 On the first Decoration Day, 20,000 graves at Arlington National Cemetery were decorated. Ana Rocío Álvarez Bríñez, The Courier-Journal, 21 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for decorate 

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 27 May. 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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