1 of 2


or·​na·​men·​tal ˌȯr-nə-ˈmen-tᵊl How to pronounce ornamental (audio)
: of, relating to, or serving as ornament
specifically : grown as an ornamental
ornamentally adverb


2 of 2


: a decorative object
especially : a plant cultivated for its beauty rather than for use

Example Sentences

Adjective The garden has many ornamental shrubs. the trim on Victorian houses is sometimes elaborately ornamental Noun The garden has many beautiful ornamentals. a collection of fragile ornamentals kept in a glass cabinet
Recent Examples on the Web
Direct the wash water to fruit trees and ornamental plants. Nan Sterman, San Diego Union-Tribune, 7 Jan. 2023 Still, beyond the potency of nostalgia, this is ornamental. Ligaya Mishan Esther Choi, New York Times, 3 Nov. 2022 There are plenty of accessories that are ornamental. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, 18 Oct. 2022 Others are more ornamental and abstract, as when the red Temptation dress is shot twirling overhead, fanned out in quadruple vision. Vulture, 11 Aug. 2022 Use them to create a trail of light through a planting bed, down a path, or among ornamental grasses, as pictured here. Sunset Magazine, 10 Dec. 2022 Let ornamental grasses stand: Plan to cut them back in late February or early March before new growth begins. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 20 Nov. 2022 More sturdy plants like ferns, sedums, ornamental grasses, bleeding heart, heuchera, hellebores and most herbs fend them off reasonably well. oregonlive, 31 Oct. 2022 Each container in this pair measures 15.9 inches by 19.8 inches, and their tall, textured design is perfect for showcasing bold, upright foliage plants such as ornamental grasses or New Zealand flax. Jennifer Aldrich, Better Homes & Gardens, 25 Oct. 2022
Twelve years later, Bennett and her team have designed around 200 gardens, all of which integrate the ornamental with the edible. Camille Okhio, ELLE Decor, 13 June 2022 There are lots of varieties, some ornamental and others edible. Jeff Lowenfels, Anchorage Daily News, 26 May 2022 The only species that was unmolested was Japanese maple, an exotic ornamental that came to represent one-quarter of the forest’s inventory. Washington Post, 7 July 2021 An unnamed elephant ear is most likely to be Colocasia esculenta, the food plant taro, which also makes an impressive ornamental. Adrian Higgins, Washington Post, 17 May 2021 This looks like Parney cotoneaster (Cotoneaster lacteus), a native of China used as an ornamental. oregonlive, 27 Dec. 2020 Deep green, textured foliage makes this variety an excellent ornamental for arbors or training against a wall. Earl Nickel, SFChronicle.com, 7 Aug. 2020 Fruit pruning doesn’t follow the rules for ornamentals. Margaret Roach, New York Times, 5 May 2020 Forsythia shrubs are beginning to provide a golden display in Northern Ohio, Pieras is in full flower and other ornamentals seem prepared to bloom at the first sign of warm weather. cleveland, 27 Mar. 2020 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


1595, in the meaning defined above


1650, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ornamental was in 1595

Dictionary Entries Near ornamental

Cite this Entry

“Ornamental.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ornamental. Accessed 5 Feb. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
or·​na·​men·​tal ˌȯr-nə-ˈment-ᵊl How to pronounce ornamental (audio)
: of, relating to, or serving as ornament
ornamentally adverb


2 of 2 noun
: a decorative object
especially : a plant cultivated for its beauty rather than for use

More from Merriam-Webster on ornamental

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