rib·​bon | \ˈri-bən \

Definition of ribbon 

(Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a flat or tubular narrow closely woven fabric (as of silk or rayon) used for trimmings or knitting

b : a narrow fabric used for tying packages

c : a piece of usually multicolored ribbon worn as a military decoration or in place of a medal

d : a strip of colored satin given for winning a place in a competition

2 : a strip of inked fabric (as in a typewriter)

3 ribbons plural : reins for controlling an animal

4 : tatter, shred usually used in plural a sheet cut to ribbons

5 : ribband


ribboned; ribboning; ribbons

Definition of ribbon (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1a : to adorn with ribbons

b : to divide into ribbons

c : to cover with or as if with ribbons

2 : to rip to shreds

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Other Words from ribbon


ribbonlike \ˈri-​bən-​ˌlīk \ adjective

Synonyms for ribbon

Synonyms: Noun

list, slip, strip

Synonyms: Verb

rend, rip, rive, shred, tatter, tear

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Examples of ribbon in a Sentence


She wore pink ribbons in her hair. She tied a ribbon around the present. The present was tied with ribbon. The soldier proudly wore his ribbons and medals. Her pie won a ribbon at the county fair.


over the years the historic flag had become badly ribboned by the wind
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

After all the handshakes, ribbon-cuttings and photographs of the participants have been taken and presented to the public, what is left? WSJ, "Aisle-Crossing Seems to Go in One Direction," 5 Sep. 2018 The miniature is set on a yellow silk ribbon and worn pinned to the left shoulder of the recipient's dress. Caroline Picard, Good Housekeeping, "The First Photos of Kate Middleton Wearing an Special Honor From the Queen Are Breathtaking," 24 Oct. 2018 Kate was noticeably wearing her order with a yellow ribbon on the left strap of her gown last night. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Just Received an Extremely Important Honor from the Queen," 24 Oct. 2018 The yellow ribbons are controversial with many Catalans who want to stay part of Spain. Jeannette Neumann, WSJ, "Catalonia Reminds Spain What Many Still Want: Independence," 11 Sep. 2018 After my husband chooses a few of these to bring back to London, the elderly maker records the sale in a tombstone-size ledger and wraps his work in yellow ribbon. Jo Rodgers, Condé Nast Traveler, "The Most Romantic Way to Get From Singapore to Bangkok," 7 Sep. 2018 Waffle House employee Stan Brudnicki wears a ribbon on his uniform to honor shooting victims Wednesday, April 25, 2018, in Nashville, Tenn. Washington Post, "Patrons visit Waffle House to support shooting survivors," 26 Apr. 2018 The ribbons coil around two Guggenheim-like towers. Michael Kimmelman, New York Times, "Coney Island’s Newest Wonder: Sharkitecture!," 28 June 2018 Early renderings show a train wrapped in a pink ribbon decal with Hello Kitty character illustrations greeting passengers at the door. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Hello Kitty bullet train unveiled in Japan," 27 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

One of the original highways in the U.S. highway system, Route 66 stretches from Chicago to Santa Monica, totaling in 2,448 miles of ribboning highway. Lydia Culp, Fox News, "Best US road trips," 2 Apr. 2018 Layers of cool hues and ribboned marble give the interior a quiet and calming vibe. Neal J. Leitereg, latimes.com, "Contemporary three-story displays a fresh face in Playa Vista," 2 May 2018 For instance, the exterior of the 33-story glassy tower is punctuated with full-height bay windows, and each floor is ribboned with a horizontal green band. Pamela Dittmer Mckuen, chicagotribune.com, "New angular Loop apartment wants you to fall in love with its lines," 21 Dec. 2017 The croissants are Philly’s best, their whorling layers tanged with cultured butter and honey — even better ribboned with intense chocolate. Craig Laban, Philly.com, "Hungry Pigeon serves comfort plates with a cheffy twist," 9 Dec. 2017 In the chef’s kitchen, ribboned calacatta marble countertops pair with custom white cabinetry. Neal J. Leitereg, latimes.com, "Former Angel Gary Matthews Jr. parts with a home base in Corona del Mar," 19 Oct. 2017 Perhaps the best example of this is Lasa’s lumpia sariwa, a menu staple that takes a traditional Filipino rice flour crepe and the cuisine’s signature bright, vinegary sauces and pairs them with a bed of ribboned kale. Zan Romanoff, Bon Appetit, "We Want Everything on the Menu at This New Cali-Filipino Restaurant," 12 Sep. 2017 For me, all the blue and gold ribboned boxes in the world can’t hold a candle to Passover. Orange County Register, "Cooking with Judy: Can’t beat the cuisine at the community Seder," 6 Apr. 2017 The English Channel was not a wide strip of water separating present-day England and France, but instead a frozen, river-ribboned tundra connecting the two lands. Amina Khan, latimes.com, "Natural Brexit: Britain's original separation from Europe left scars on English Channel," 5 Apr. 2017

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

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First Known Use of ribbon


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


1656, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for ribbon


Middle English riban, from Anglo-French ribane, rubane

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Learn More about ribbon

Dictionary Entries near ribbon






ribbon bed

ribbon brake

Statistics for ribbon

Last Updated

2 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for ribbon

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

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More Definitions for ribbon



English Language Learners Definition of ribbon

: a narrow piece of cloth (such as silk) that is used to tie things or for decoration

: a short piece of cloth that is given as a military award

: a piece of colored cloth that is given as an award in a competition


rib·​bon | \ˈri-bən \

Kids Definition of ribbon

1 : a narrow strip of usually colorful fabric used especially for decoration or to tie things

2 : a ribbon that is given as an award

3 : tatter sense 1, shred usually used in pl. The sails were torn to ribbons.

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More from Merriam-Webster on ribbon

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ribbon

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for ribbon

Spanish Central: Translation of ribbon

Nglish: Translation of ribbon for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ribbon for Arabic Speakers

Comments on ribbon

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


to enclose within walls

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