fil·​i·​gree | \ ˈfi-lə-ˌgrē How to pronounce filigree (audio) \

Definition of filigree

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : ornamental work especially of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces a headband decorated with silver filigree
2a : ornamental openwork of delicate or intricate design
b : a pattern or design resembling such openwork a filigree of frost
c : ornamentation, embellishment writings … heavy with late Victorian filigree— Jack Beatty


filigreed; filigreeing

Definition of filigree (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

: to adorn with or as if with filigree

Illustration of filigree

Illustration of filigree


filigree 2a

In the meaning defined above

Did you know?

Ornamental work formerly made with grains or beads is called filigree. It comes from an Italian word made from the Latin words for thread and grain. Today filigree is usually of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper, and is used chiefly to decorate gold and silver surfaces. Filigree can also apply to any ornamental openwork of delicate or intricate design or to a pattern or design resembling such openwork.

Examples of filigree in a Sentence

Noun a surface decorated with filigree and pearls
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun At first, mansaf might have had just a filigree of white rice over a bed of bulgur, a veil of brightness that imparted a worldly sense of refinement. New York Times, 11 Nov. 2021 Some long-ago craftsman even thought to beautify the brass door hinges, some of which are etched with a delicate filigree design. Mary Carole Mccauley,, 5 Jan. 2022 The musical bits are worn lightly, less an anchor for the film than a sort of warm filigree traced on top. Leah Greenblatt,, 20 Dec. 2021 The golden filigree will also be available as additional decals for those that want absolute accuracy to the original artwork. Ollie Barder, Forbes, 30 Sep. 2021 The $600 bottle is striking, with gold filigree and packed in a box with a French court print on the inside. Gina Pace, Forbes, 31 Aug. 2021 The music unfolds like a dialogue between a solemn, dependable bass line and filigree variations full of fancy, yearning and quiet contemplation. Richard Sandomir, New York Times, 3 Aug. 2021 Silver-gilt filigree candelabras, bronze sculptures, a Boulle-style desk with brass inlay, and an ebony cabinet on a stand, which was made in a Paris workshop in the 1600s, round out the space. Mary Elizabeth Andriotis, House Beautiful, 15 June 2021 In Brooklyn, his improvisation in C-sharp minor was gently jazzy, with passages of jumpy riffs alternating with delicate filigree. New York Times, 14 May 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Two years and much ado later, Raghda serves lattes filigreed with milk art at a strip-mall coffee shop and Rafaa hosts community gatherings at an event space across the way. Vivian Yee, New York Times, 14 Mar. 2020 Another helpful move was using what Bugatti calls filigree side view mirrors, which let air pass through them. Alex Davies, WIRED, 19 Aug. 2019 In contrast to the historic skyscraper’s filigreed crown of flying buttresses and pinnacles, the top of the new one would consist of curving glass walls extending beyond the building’s occupied floors. Blair Kamin And Ryan Ori,, 16 Apr. 2018 The Mulsanne is a large luxury superliner of Bentley refinement and filigree that work flawlessly as luxurious separators from the competition, mainly the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Mercedes-Maybach S600. Mark Maynard,, 11 Aug. 2017 St. Petersburg is a museum city, its gold-filigreed heart pulsing with tsarist palaces, Baroque churches, and Art Nouveau mansions. Sophie Pinkham, New Republic, 3 July 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'filigree.' 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 filigree


1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1831, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for filigree

Noun and Verb

modification of French filigrane, from Italian filigrana, from Latin filum + granum grain — more at corn

Learn More About filigree

Time Traveler for filigree

Time Traveler

The first known use of filigree was in 1693

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near filigree




See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for filigree

Last Updated

24 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Filigree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Jan. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for filigree



English Language Learners Definition of filigree

: decoration that consists of delicate and complicated designs made of fine gold or silver wire


fil·​i·​gree | \ ˈfi-lə-ˌgrē How to pronounce filigree (audio) \

Kids Definition of filigree

: decoration made of fine wire a jewelry box with gold filigree


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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