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[dek-er-uh-tiv, dek-ruh-, dek-uh-rey-] /ˈdɛk ər ə tɪv, ˈdɛk rə-, ˈdɛk əˌreɪ-/
serving or tending to decorate.
Fine Arts. serving only to decorate, in contrast to providing a meaningful experience.
Origin of decorative
1785-95; decorate + -ive
Related forms
decoratively, adverb
decorativeness, noun
nondecorative, adjective
overdecorative, adjective
overdecoratively, adverb
overdecorativeness, noun
undecorative, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for decorative
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The snakeskin bird gets its name from its habit of using the cast-off skins of snakes for decorative purposes.

    The Dawn of Reason James Weir
  • Has serious objection to use of her head, except for decorative purposes.

  • In the third group are placed creative exercises in composition, in decorative design, and in many forms of manual training.

  • One kind hardens the surfaces without any decorative effect.

    Love and Lucy Maurice Henry Hewlett
  • The robes of the figures, beautiful in combination of colour, are elaborated to the last degree of decorative detail.

    Stained Glass Tours in France Charles Hitchcock Sherrill
British Dictionary definitions for decorative


/ˈdɛkərətɪv; ˈdɛkrətɪv/
serving to decorate or adorn; ornamental
Derived Forms
decoratively, adverb
decorativeness, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for decorative

early 15c., from Middle French decoratif, from decorat-, past participle stem of Latin decorare (see decorate).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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