em·​bel·​lish im-ˈbe-lish How to pronounce embellish (audio)
embellished; embellishing; embellishes

transitive verb

: to make beautiful with ornamentation : decorate
a book embellished with illustrations
: to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details : enhance
embellished our account of the trip
embellisher noun

Did you know?

Embellish is related to the French word for "beautiful," bel, and, traditionally, it has been used to imply beautifying an object with the addition of things unessential. That's still true; however, it is equally appealing as an adjective for making statements or stories sound more entertaining.

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

Example Sentences

a book embellished with colorful illustrations He embellished his speech with a few quotations.
Recent Examples on the Web Some pathological liars embellish their stories in order to appear more interesting or to garner sympathy. Jenna Ryu, USA TODAY, 30 Nov. 2022 The video above is less than four minutes and explains exactly how to embellish all kinds of items with a simple yarn tassel. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 1 Dec. 2022 While that is valid, do your best not to let your anxiety embellish your intuition's wise recommendations beyond what's supported by reality. Chicago Tribune, 9 Nov. 2022 In truth, any running accessories that embellish a runner lifestyle are always gratefully received. Outside Online, 23 Nov. 2022 Learn about new ways to paint, sculpt, and embellish your gourds with these pumpkin carving alternatives. Emily Vanschmus, Better Homes & Gardens, 18 Oct. 2022 To add visual weight and texture to a simple faux evergreen garland, embellish it with large pinecones. Sarah Martens, Better Homes & Gardens, 15 Nov. 2022 As long as there is a means of hanging the ornament, these DIY pieces can embellish your wintery window scene or be the final touch on your Christmas dinner table. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 15 Nov. 2022 In preparation for the summit, Algerian authorities spent millions of dollars to embellish the city, repainting its notorious white facades and deploying the flags of the 22 members of the Arab League near the city’s Great Mosque. Jack Jeffery, ajc, 1 Nov. 2022 See More

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.

Word History


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

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near embellish

Cite this Entry

“Embellish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/embellish. Accessed 26 Jan. 2023.

Kids Definition


em·​bel·​lish im-ˈbel-ish How to pronounce embellish (audio)
: to make beautiful with ornamentation : decorate
a book embellished with pictures

More from Merriam-Webster on embellish

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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