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fil·​i·​gree ˈfi-lə-ˌgrē How to pronounce filigree (audio)
: ornamental work especially of fine wire of gold, silver, or copper applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces
a headband decorated with silver filigree
: ornamental openwork of delicate or intricate design
: a pattern or design resembling such openwork
a filigree of frost
: ornamentation, embellishment
writings … heavy with late Victorian filigree Jack Beatty

Illustration of filigree

Illustration of filigree
  • filigree 2a


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filigreed; filigreeing

transitive verb

: to adorn with or as if with filigree

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.

Example Sentences

Noun a surface decorated with filigree and pearls
Recent Examples on the Web
Quilling -- sometimes known as paper filigree -- dates back hundreds of years, and was practiced by European nuns as far back as the 16th century, according to the non-profit Quilling Guild, but Kekere-Ekun stumbled upon the technique by accident. CNN, 2 Nov. 2022 Louisiana roots are unmistakable in this swaggering bit of New Orleans-style R&B, complete with horn section and showy right-hand filigree. Jon Pareles, New York Times, 28 Oct. 2022 Amid a lengthy review of lighting options, one of the homeowners zeroed in on a pair of Moroccan filigree lanterns and a lightbulb went off for Loew. Robert Rufino, House Beautiful, 6 Oct. 2022 Crafted with amethysts, aquamarines, peridots, and morganites, these pieces feature a delicate yellow-gold filigree evoking baroque moldings. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, 1 Sep. 2022 Think: earrings with filigree and floral elements, and pearl details to reference the seaside. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 9 June 2022 Even in the hands of the greats, food scenes can seem less than central to a story, more filler or filigree than substance. Adrienne Lafrance, The Atlantic, 29 Mar. 2022 Memphis Minnie Jazz-nimble country-blues filigree and leads. Matt Wake |, al, 27 Mar. 2022 With the chards, Sonoma offers gossamer texture and filigree. Washington Post, 10 Mar. 2022
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 See More

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.

Word History


Noun and Verb

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

First Known Use


1693, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1831, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of filigree was in 1693

Dictionary Entries Near filigree

Cite this Entry

“Filigree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



: ornamental work especially of fine wire applied chiefly to gold and silver surfaces
: ornamental work of delicate or complicated design done so as to show openings through the material
: a pattern or design resembling such work
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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