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or·​na·​ment ˈȯr-nə-mənt How to pronounce ornament (audio)
plural ornaments
archaic : a useful accessory
: something that lends grace, beauty, or festivity
holiday ornaments
: a manner or quality that adorns
: one whose virtues or graces add luster to a place or society
: the act of adorning or being adorned
: an embellishing note not belonging to the essential harmony or melody

called also embellishment, fioritura


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or·​na·​ment ˈȯr-nə-ˌment How to pronounce ornament (audio)
ornamented; ornamenting; ornaments

transitive verb

: to provide with ornament : embellish
Choose the Right Synonym for ornament

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

Example Sentences

Noun She wore a hair ornament. The columns are there purely as ornament—they have no structural function. Verb flower patterns used to ornament boxes delicate crystal figurines ornament the mantel over the fireplace
Recent Examples on the Web
Add a personal touch to your tree with an initial ornament. Angela Belt, House Beautiful, 9 Nov. 2022 Put them to good use once and for all by using them to craft an adorable ornament. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 8 Nov. 2022 Add a little Outlander to your Christmas tree with an ornament. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, 11 Oct. 2022 The box also contained an ornament of the church which had been made and sold as part of a fundraiser and a note sent back to the religious education students from Indiana after a balloon launch celebrating the 125th anniversary. Jessie Molloy, Chicago Tribune, 2 Oct. 2022 The king once again lacks a male heir, oblivious to his fierce dragonrider daughter, Rhaenyra's (Milly Alcock), potential as anything other than an ornament to the court. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, 22 Aug. 2022 Eve 2017 depicted several gang members dancing and holding up handguns in an apartment decorated with a plastic, ornament-less Christmas tree and snowflake streamers. Jason Meisner, Chicago Tribune, 6 Nov. 2022 The more creative among us may enjoy the pumpkin-painting, ornament-making and cookie-decorating activities. Rachel Schnalzer, Los Angeles Times, 27 Oct. 2022 Make a statement at all your holiday festivities with this glimmering metallic silver polish that reminds us of a shining holiday ornament or a NYE disco ball. Katie Berohn, Good Housekeeping, 19 Oct. 2022
Most of these invaders come from gardens — imported from Asia, Europe and other places to ornament local landscapes. Beth Botts, Chicago Tribune, 5 Nov. 2022 Then, a few weeks later, Middleton stunned in another Jane Taylor design—this time a striking white and black piece to ornament her look for Anzac Day services. Roxanne Adamiyatt, Town & Country, 20 May 2022 Dancing flames cast an orange glow on the side of the boy’s face; silhouettes of bare trees ornament the distance. Clint Smith, The Atlantic, 4 Feb. 2022 The key turned out to be feathers, which have long been known to ornament many cavity-loving species’ nests. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 16 Nov. 2021 The Baroque Hôtel d’Ecquevilly, built in 1638 as a private residence for a Parisian aristocrat, was later the home of Louis XV’s master of the hunt, who commissioned the elaborate bas-reliefs of boars and dogs that still ornament its exterior. New York Times, 7 Sep. 2021 The picture that has emerged is of an aging emperor, surrounded by a harem of nubile women paid to ornament his dinner table, boost his ego, and dance around in their underpants. Isaac Chotiner, The New Yorker, 12 Aug. 2021 The second-floor master suite incorporates a bedroom with new oak floors, a bow window and a walk-in closet with mirrored doors ornamented with etched glass. Julie Lasky, New York Times, 13 May 2020 In the 1920s, Cleveland’s wealthy lined Shaker Boulevard in Shaker Heights and Fairmount Boulevard in Cleveland Heights with richly ornamented, neo-Tudor or neoclassical mansions that openly flaunt the wealth of their owners. Steven Litt, cleveland, 3 May 2020 See More

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

Word History



Middle English, from Anglo-French urnement, ornement, from Latin ornamentum, from ornare

First Known Use


13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1650, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ornament was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near ornament

Cite this Entry

“Ornament.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ornament. Accessed 26 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

ornament 1 of 2


or·​na·​ment ˈȯr-nə-mənt How to pronounce ornament (audio)
: something that adds beauty : decoration
: addition of something that beautifies
a satin bow applied for ornament


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or·​na·​ment ˈȯr-nə-ˌment How to pronounce ornament (audio)
: to provide with ornament : adorn

More from Merriam-Webster on ornament

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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