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

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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 From his opening words, President Biden made clear this would be a sober summons to service largely stripped of the rhetorical filigree often associated with inaugural addresses. New York Times, "President Biden’s Full Inauguration Speech, Annotated," 20 Jan. 2021 Don’t look for toasty, brioche notes; this is a wine of filigree and finesse. Washington Post, "This savory, silky $14 pinot noir is worth stocking up on," 4 Dec. 2020 Actively oppositional stances wound their way across and into sophisti-pop canon like sharp filigree. Washington Post, "Almost anarchy: The Style Council and the smooth sounds of sophisti-pop," 20 Nov. 2020 The oboe plays a jaunty melody while the strings toss off fast filigree. Tim Diovanni, Dallas News, "From Buenos Aires to Florence: Dallas Chamber Music Society concert covered a lot of ground," 17 Nov. 2020 In that setting, the tenderness Ax applied to the slow movement was positively gripping, his filigree on certain passages remarkably meaningful. Zachary Lewis, cleveland, "Cleveland Orchestra shines in Haydn, Bartok on third ‘In Focus’ series episode: Review," 13 Nov. 2020 But Eddie’s meaty arpeggios in the song’s prechorus provide a crucial counterweight to all the Space Age filigree., "Remembering Eddie Van Halen: His 20 greatest performances," 7 Oct. 2020 Most striking: Wrought iron with ornamental filigree is seen in the stucco garden wall, and inside, wrought-iron railing winds up the main staircase. oregonlive, "1928 Mediterranean mansion with turret in Portland’s West Hills is a bit of a mystery," 7 Oct. 2020 Its gold curves and filigree rise above her shoulders, a stark symbol of luxury against a flat white wall. Ariana Romero,, "Amara La Negra Shouldn’t Have To Educate You. But Class Is In Session.," 22 Sep. 2020 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, "Saudi Law Granted Women New Freedoms. Their Families Don’t Always Agree.," 14 Mar. 2020 Another helpful move was using what Bugatti calls filigree side view mirrors, which let air pass through them. Alex Davies, WIRED, "Want to Burn $9 Million to Go 236 MPH? Try the New Bugatti," 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,, "Developers plan city's second-tallest skyscraper next to new Tribune Tower condos," 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,, "2017 Bentley Mulsanne: A battle hymn of tradition and stoic provenance," 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, "How a Russian Street Art Museum Defies Kremlin Censors," 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.

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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

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Time Traveler for filigree

Time Traveler

The first known use of filigree was in 1693

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Statistics for filigree

Last Updated

5 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Filigree.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Mar. 2021.

Style: MLA
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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

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Comments on filigree

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