verb em·bel·lish \im-ˈbe-lish\

Definition of embellish

  1. transitive verb
  2. 1 :  to make beautiful with ornamentation :  decorate a book embellished with illustrations

  3. 2 :  to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details :  enhance embellished our account of the trip



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.

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

First Known Use: 14th century

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


verb em·bel·lish \im-ˈbe-lish\

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


verb em·bel·lish \im-ˈbe-lish\

Definition of embellish for Students




  1. :  decorate 1 Artwork embellished the book.


\-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).


to reflect on carefully

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