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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.
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. 2014.
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Examples from the web for decorative
  • The seaweed in question was imported for decorative aquariums, then released into the wild.
  • He wears as decorative clothes as he likes, and his house is filled with beautiful paintings and is spotlessly clean.
  • Common among many who desire a practical and healthy lunch, these small, decorative boxes can hold a surprising amount of food.
  • Most decorative green plants are not safe for cats to eat.
  • Offer the candidate one hundred decorative rubber-stamps for various occasions.
  • Clocks and decorative wall thermometers can be beautiful collectors' items as well as practical weather forecasters.
  • Place the first circle on the table with the decorative side facing up.
  • Look for woven trays, lidded laundry baskets, and decorative pieces made from split bamboo and palm leaves.
  • To create the decorative surface of cloisonné, thin fillets of flattened wire are bent to form a pattern.
  • Similar to flower arrangements, the decorative pieces are made of green bamboo and pine boughs tied together.
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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