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 loyalty Geoffrey 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

Example Sentences

I always enjoy decorating the Christmas tree. I decorated my apartment in dark colors.
Recent Examples on the Web Just decorate them with a star and foam shapes to create mini Christmas trees. Anna Logan, Country Living, 17 Nov. 2022 For an extra touch, cut out ornament shapes and have your kids decorate them. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Nov. 2022 To celebrate, followers make a small replica of the mountain (often using cow dung) and decorate it with flowers before worshiping it. Skyler Caruso, Peoplemag, 22 Oct. 2022 Pick up a pack of blank red greeting cards with envelopes ($3, Joann) and decorate them with paper hearts and glue. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 6 Oct. 2022 Bake some Thanksgiving shape cookies and have the kids decorate them, get grandma in on rolling out the pie dough, or enlist a few cousins to frost a cake. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 10 Aug. 2022 Allen Fair, who who owns the Graw Alley property and is president of Harmer’s Town Art Center, Inc., , worked with Berger to clean up the space and decorate the alley wall with murals depicting the history of Havre de Grace. Tony Roberts, Baltimore Sun, 24 Oct. 2022 People go to the cemetery to paint the tombs of their relatives with whitewash (encalado) and decorate them with flowers. Françoise Mouly, The New Yorker, 24 Oct. 2022 Prepare by ordering white shirts (or any other white cotton item) and have guests decorate each item with colorful dye. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 13 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 2 Dec. 2022.

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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