garnish

1 of 2

verb

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

transitive verb

1
b
: to add decorative or savory touches to (food or drink)
garnished the fish with parsley leaves
2
: to equip with accessories : furnish
3

garnish

2 of 2

noun

1
2
: something (such as lemon wedges or parsley) used to decorate or flavor food or drink
3
a
: an unauthorized fee formerly extorted from a new inmate of an English jail
b
: a similar payment required of a new worker

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.

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

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
Adelstein in Tokyo Vice also suffers from Japanese-superiority complex after being thrust into a beguiling demimonde of yakuza gangsters and gorgeous hostesses who garnish his adventures with Kobe beef and bottle service. Ryu Spaeth, Vulture, 23 Apr. 2024 Julie Andrews, Sidney Poitier and Gregory Peck were garnishing awards recognition. Amanda Luberto, The Arizona Republic, 15 Apr. 2024
Noun
A little umbrella shading an array of lurid garnishes, with crushed ice already beginning to shush in the heat? Jason O'Bryan, Robb Report, 29 June 2024 The essence of a dirty martini is there in both taste and aroma with the bright, briny olive juice and enough citrus to evoke my preferred martini lemon-peel garnish. Jenn Harris, Los Angeles Times, 29 June 2024 See all Example Sentences for garnish 

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'garnish.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

Verb

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

Noun

1596, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

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Dictionary Entries Near garnish

Cite this Entry

“Garnish.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/garnish. Accessed 16 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition

garnish

verb
gar·​nish
ˈgär-nish
1
2
: to add decorations or seasonings to (food)
3
garnish noun
garnishment
-mənt
noun

Legal Definition

garnish

transitive verb
gar·​nish ˈgär-nish How to pronounce garnish (audio)
1
: to subject (property or money) to garnishment
2
: to seek satisfaction of (a debt) through garnishment compare attach, levy
Etymology

Transitive verb

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

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