embellish

verb em·bel·lish \ im-ˈbe-lish \
Updated on: 10 Nov 2017

Definition of embellish

transitive verb
1 :to make beautiful with ornamentation :decorate
  • a book embellished with illustrations
2 :to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details :enhance
  • embellished our account of the trip

embellisher

noun

embellish was our Word of the Day on 08/28/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of embellish in a Sentence

  1. a book embellished with colorful illustrations

  2. He embellished his speech with a few quotations.

Recent Examples of embellish from the Web

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

Did You Know?

Like its synonyms adorn, ornament, and garnish, embellish means to make something beautiful by the addition of a decorative or fanciful feature. Traditionally, the word is used specifically to stress the addition of superfluous or adventitious ornament, as in "The printer embellished the page with a floral border." Embellish differs from its synonyms, however, in that it is sometimes used in a euphemistic way to refer to the inclusion of details that are not necessarily true to make a story sound more appealing. The word derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French verb embelir, from en- and bel ("beautiful").

Origin and Etymology of embellish

Middle English, from Anglo-French embeliss-, stem of embelir, from en- + bel beautiful — more at beauty

Synonym Discussion of embellish

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

EMBELLISH Defined for English Language Learners

embellish

verb

Definition of embellish for English Language Learners

  • : to decorate (something) by adding special details and features : to make (something) more appealing or attractive


EMBELLISH Defined for Kids

embellish

verb em·bel·lish \ im-ˈbe-lish \

Definition of embellish for Students

embellished; embellishing
:decorate 1
  • Artwork embellished the book.

embellishment

\-mənt\ noun


Seen and Heard

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

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

WORD OF THE DAY

to praise usually to excess

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Find the Cousins

  • a-large-tree-with-many-branches
  • Which pair shares a common word ancestor?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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