em·​bel·​lish | \im-ˈbe-lish \
embellished; embellishing; embellishes

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from embellish

embellisher noun

Choose the Right Synonym for 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

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").

Examples of embellish in a Sentence

a book embellished with colorful illustrations He embellished his speech with a few quotations.

Recent Examples on the Web

Reality: To embellish her space, Paige had layered area rugs on carpet in the office and living room. Marni Jameson, OrlandoSentinel.com, "7 mistakes rookie DIY decorators make," 13 July 2018 Without a true event to embellish, the next best thing is for a newspaper movie to be written by former reporters. Ruthe Stein, SFChronicle.com, "Newspaper movies get a resurgence: Rob Reiner’s ‘Shock and Awe’ the latest," 5 July 2018 Philpot was popular for embellishing staffs, jewels, clocks, crystals, watches and other materials, according to Kresge Arts in Detroit, a program that provides support for local artists. Deasia Paige, Detroit Free Press, "Popular Detroit wood-carver David Philpot dies," 29 June 2018 In short, the governor’s story is compelling without embellishing the facts. Salvador Rizzo, Washington Post, "Andrew Cuomo overstates his record on same-sex marriage," 15 June 2018 The Prime Minister, Giuseppe Conte, is a law professor who has never before held political office, and who has been accused of embellishing parts of his resume. Lauren Said-moorhouse And Gianluca Mezzofiore, CNN, "Meet the populist players about to take power in Italy," 1 June 2018 The president's tendencies to embellish and to ramble remain his greatest sources of potential legal jeopardy. Jay Willis, GQ, "What the Hell Is Rudy Giuliani Doing?," 3 May 2018 The show stars Nora, also known as rapper Awkwafina, and includes musical set pieces to embellish the story. Michael O'connell, The Hollywood Reporter, "Comedy Central Orders Series From 'Broad City' Alum," 17 Apr. 2018 Manchester City have been accused of embellishing their attendance figures at the Etihad Stadium by a freedom of information report, that claims the club have averaged nearly 10,000 empty seats for Premier League games this season. SI.com, "Report Claims Man City & Other Premier League Clubs Have Released Bogus Attendance Numbers," 30 Mar. 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of embellish

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for embellish

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about embellish

Listen to Our Podcast about embellish

Dictionary Entries near embellish







ember day

Statistics for embellish

Last Updated

4 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for embellish

The first known use of embellish was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for embellish



English Language Learners Definition of embellish

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


em·​bel·​lish | \im-ˈbe-lish \
embellished; embellishing

Kids Definition of embellish

: decorate sense 1 Artwork embellished the book.

Other Words from embellish

embellishment \ -​mənt \ noun

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on embellish

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


something that serves to warn or remind

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

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

Bee Cubed

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


Love words? Need even more definitions?

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