garnish

verb
gar·​nish | \ˈgär-nish \
garnished; garnishing; garnishes

Definition of garnish 

(Entry 1 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : decorate, embellish

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

garnish

noun

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

Keep scrolling for more

Choose the Right Synonym for garnish

Verb

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?

Verb

Although we now mostly garnish food, the general application of the "decorate" meaning is older. The link between embellishing an object or space and adding a little parsley to a plate isn't 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 means "to warn or to equip." 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

Pour browned butter in skillet into separate bowl and reserve for garnishing. 5. Tan Vinh, The Seattle Times, "Fall into this Cook’s Illustrated’s recipe: creamy cauliflower soup," 16 Oct. 2018 Serve over ice, garnished with a sprig of fresh basil. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "This Louisville kid runs one of the nation's sweetest lemonade stands," 14 June 2018 Top with champagne, garnish with a strawberry and serve. Alysha Witwicki, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How to have big fun with mini-appetizers and mini-cocktails," 2 June 2018 Drinks: The signature bloody mary is flavored with yuzu and wasabi and garnished with edamame and one of the meatballs from the River North restaurant's tan tan ramen. Samantha Nelson, RedEye Chicago, "Warm up with these 16 winter brunches in Chicago," 18 Jan. 2018 Top with ice, garnish with a lemon wheel and serve. San Antonio Express-News, "Recipe: Pineapple Squash drink," 3 July 2018 Serve the curry hot and garnish each bowl with fresh cilantro, green onion and a lime wedge. Nicole Sours Larson, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Gourmet food on a budget," 23 Apr. 2018 Just before serving, garnish each egg with a dab of caviar and some chives. Woman's Day, "Deviled Eggs with Caviar," 30 Dec. 2011 Serve in cups, bowls and garnished with a bit of the diced bell peppers, diced cucumbers, minced garlic and green onion slices. Susan Selasky, ajc, "5 recipes to cool things down on hot days," 3 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Simply roast up your favorite combination of vegetables, then add a protein-packed garnish at the end. Melissa Clark, The Seattle Times, "How to make sheet-pan suppers without the meat," 1 Oct. 2018 Use a lemon zester to grate a few threads right off the root to make a pungent garnish for grilled fish, especially salmon and fresh tuna. The Editors, Good Housekeeping, "How to Grow and Prepare Horseradish Straight From Your Garden," 27 July 2018 The chef then takes the breast back to the kitchen to slice and arrange onto individual serving plates next to a garnish of cherries, turnips and frisee. Michael Bauer, SFChronicle.com, "Sorrel off to a stellar start in Pacific Heights," 6 July 2018 Bread and butter pickles and a garnish of crispy onions made each bite pop. Lindsey Mcclave, The Courier-Journal, "Try one of these top 13 best-reviewed Louisville restaurants of 2018," 15 June 2018 Proof on Main, at Louisville’s 21c Museum Hotel, features a julep where single-barrel bourbon is swizzled with ginger-lime cordial, and in addition to a mint garnish, a spice blend of clove, star anise, nutmeg and black pepper is torched atop. Carey Jones, Vogue, "The Many Mint Juleps of the Kentucky Derby," 5 May 2018 Author Kitty Morse will then lecture on how edible flowers can be elevated from a garnish to center stage of a meal. Linda Mcintosh, sandiegouniontribune.com, "Women generals topic of talk," 16 Mar. 2018 Fresh Fruit Anything is more Insta-worthy with a garnish. Devin Alessio, ELLE Decor, "How To Make A Mimosa Bar," 10 Mar. 2016 The restaurant tries to dress up this cozy dish by using arugula as a garnish, a tomato vinaigrette as a seasoning and Anson Mills’ grits as the base. Lauren Delgado, OrlandoSentinel.com, "Brunch Punch: Slate in Orlando's Dr. Phillips neighborhood," 13 July 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of garnish

Verb

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

Noun

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for garnish

Verb

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

Noun

derivative of garnish entry 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about garnish

Listen to Our Podcast about garnish

Statistics for garnish

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for garnish

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for garnish

garnish

verb

English Language Learners Definition of garnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to put something on (food) as a decoration; also : to be added as a decoration to (food)

garnish

noun

English Language Learners Definition of garnish (Entry 2 of 2)

: something (such as small pieces of fruit, chopped herbs, etc.) that is put on food as a decoration

garnish

verb
gar·​nish | \ˈgär-nish \
garnished; garnishing

Kids Definition of garnish

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: to add decorations or seasoning (as to food)

garnish

noun

Kids Definition of garnish (Entry 2 of 2)

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

garnish

transitive verb
gar·​nish | \ˈgär-nish \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on garnish

What made you want to look up garnish? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

a private place of worship

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Difficult Vocab Quiz

  • the-education-of-achilles-eugne-delacroix
  • Which is a synonym of discomfit?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
SCRABBLE® Sprint

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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