gar·​nish | \ ˈgär-nish How to pronounce garnish (audio) \
garnished; garnishing; garnishes

Definition of garnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

b : to add decorative or savory touches to (food or drink) garnished the fish with parsley leaves
2 : to equip with accessories : furnish
3 : garnishee



Definition of garnish (Entry 2 of 2)

2 : something (such as lemon wedges or parsley) used to decorate or flavor food or drink
3a : an unauthorized fee formerly extorted from a new inmate of an English jail
b : a similar payment required of a new worker

Choose the Right Synonym for garnish


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

Did you know?

Although we now mostly garnish food, the general application of the "decorate" sense is older. The link between embellishing an object or space and adding a little parsley to a plate is not too hard to see, but how does the sense relating to debtors' wages fit in? The answer lies in the word's Anglo-French root, garnir, which has various meanings including "to give notice or legal summons" and "to decorate." Before wages were garnished, the debtor would be served with a legal summons or warning. The legal sense of garnish now focuses on the taking of the wages, but it is rooted in the action of furnishing the warning.

Examples of garnish in a Sentence

Verb Chocolate curls garnished the cake. a chef who never served any dish without first garnishing it Noun added a garnish of parsley to the plate before serving it
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Pour straight from the blender into margarita glass and garnish with lime wheel and sprinkling of Tajin + small straw. Amber Love Bond, Forbes, 28 June 2022 Pour the reserved cooking juices over the chicken, and garnish with cilantro. Tse Wei Lim,, 7 June 2022 Everything arrives fully pre-prepared, and all the customer has to do is reheat, garnish and enjoy. Bridget Arsenault, Forbes, 15 July 2022 An egg can bind, puff, gel, lighten, set, enrich, and garnish everything from chocolate éclairs to velvety crême brulée. Ruby Tandoh, Bon Appétit, 13 July 2022 In most of them, including Arizona, the community-property principle extends to debt: creditors can seize the community property of both spouses, or even garnish their wages, to collect on the debts of one. Michael Waters, The New Yorker, 12 July 2022 Beyond that basic outline, though, there were few facts with which to garnish the story. New York Times, 8 July 2022 Spoon the chicken salad in the middle and garnish the edges with cucumbers and radishes. Sheryl Julian,, 5 July 2022 In the hierarchy of taco ingredients, the avocado is usually a bit player, relegated to garnish duties. Washington Post, 15 June 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Add all ingredients in a shaker tin except one sage leaf for garnish. Lauren Hubbard, Town & Country, 3 Aug. 2022 The final product looks pretty delicious, served on a plate with a basil and lemon garnish. Fiona Ward, Glamour, 28 July 2022 Remove from oven and drizzle with more olive oil and garnish, if desired, with fresh herbs or chile flakes, etc. Kim Sunée, Anchorage Daily News, 22 July 2022 Strawberries go into the cake, as well as on top for garnish. Becky Krystal, Washington Post, 4 June 2022 Chaulafan, a fried rice dish with chicken, beef or a combo, is $17 to $20 and is served with colorful flowers as a garnish. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 8 July 2022 There’s something about a high-quality cherry garnish that makes any drink feel fancier, from a lemon LaCroix to a flute of Champagne to an amaretto or whiskey sour. Kelsey Ogletree, Bon Appétit, 25 June 2022 Serves 6 To keep a boneless pork loin from drying out over high heat, sprinkle it with a dry brine of salt, sugar, paprika, pepper, and dry mustard before grilling, then add a garnish of the popular Argentine herb condiment, chimichurri., 14 June 2022 Edible flowers are an easy and pretty way to add color and flavor to a dish, either as a garnish, or even incorporated into the dish itself. Arricca Elin Sansone, Country Living, 14 June 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'garnish.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of garnish


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for garnish


Middle English garnishen "to equip, decorate," borrowed from Anglo-French garniss-, present stem of garnir, warnir "to give notice, warn, instruct, give legal summons, provide (for), equip, trim, decorate," going back to Old Low Franconian *warnjan-, variant or reduction of West Germanic *warnōjan- "to make aware" — more at warn


derivative of garnish entry 1

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Time Traveler for garnish

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The first known use of garnish was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

5 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Garnish.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Aug. 2022.

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More Definitions for garnish


gar·​nish | \ ˈgär-nish How to pronounce garnish (audio) \
garnished; garnishing

Kids Definition of garnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to add decorations or seasoning (as to food)



Kids Definition of garnish (Entry 2 of 2)

: something used to add decoration or flavoring (as to food)


transitive verb
gar·​nish | \ ˈgär-nish How to pronounce garnish (audio) \

Legal Definition of garnish

1 : to subject (property or money) to garnishment
2 : to seek satisfaction of (a debt) through garnishment — compare attach, levy

History and Etymology for garnish

Anglo-French garniss-, stem of garnir to garnish, give legal summons, warn, from Old French, of Germanic origin; akin to Old High German warnōn to take heed

More from Merriam-Webster on garnish

Nglish: Translation of garnish for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of garnish for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about garnish


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