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[adj. ih-lab-er-it; v. ih-lab-uh-reyt] /adj. ɪˈlæb ər ɪt; v. ɪˈlæb əˌreɪt/
worked out with great care and nicety of detail; executed with great minuteness:
elaborate preparations; elaborate care.
Antonyms: simple.
marked by intricate and often excessive detail; complicated; ornate.
verb (used with object), elaborated, elaborating.
to work out carefully or minutely; develop to perfection.
Synonyms: refine, improve.
to add details to; expand.
to produce or develop by labor.
Physiology. to convert (food, plasma, etc.) by means of chemical processes into a substance more suitable for use within the body.
verb (used without object), elaborated, elaborating.
to add details in writing, speaking, etc.; give additional or fuller treatment (usually followed by on or upon):
to elaborate upon a theme or an idea.
Synonyms: refine, improve.
Origin of elaborate
1575-85; < Latin ēlabōrātus (past participle of ēlabōrāre) worked out, equivalent to ē- e-1 + labōr- work + -ātus -ate1
Related forms
elaborately, adverb
elaborateness, noun
elaborative, adjective
elaborator, noun
nonelaborate, adjective
nonelaborately, adverb
nonelaborateness, noun
nonelaborating, adjective
nonelaborative, adjective
quasi-elaborate, adjective
quasi-elaborately, adverb
self-elaborated, adjective
superelaborate, adjective
superelaborately, adverb
superelaborateness, noun
unelaborate, adjective
unelaborately, adverb
unelaborateness, noun
unelaborated, adjective
well-elaborated, adjective
Synonym Study
2. Elaborate, labored, studied apply to that which is worked out in great detail. That which is elaborate is characterized by great, sometimes even excessive, minuteness of detail: elaborate preparations for a banquet. That which is labored is marked by excessive, often forced or uninspired, effort: a labored style of writing. That which is studied is accomplished with care and deliberation, and is done purposely, sometimes even having been rehearsed: a studied pose. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for elaborate
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • For his illustrations Klinger usually makes an elaborate series of pen drawings, and then etches from these.

    Modern Illustration Joseph Pennell
  • He read with pencil in hand, and he had an elaborate system of marking a book.

    The Grand Old Man Richard B. Cook
  • With elaborate circumlocution they expressed regrets, and 'tendered kindest remembrance and best wishes.'

    A Speckled Bird Augusta J. Evans Wilson
  • This is so evident that I will not wait to elaborate it further.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
  • The most elaborate story of Creation is found in the Laws of Manu, the eponymous ancestor of mankind and the first lawgiver.

    Indian Myth and Legend Donald Alexander Mackenzie
British Dictionary definitions for elaborate


adjective (ɪˈlæbərɪt)
planned or executed with care and exactness; detailed
marked by complexity, ornateness, or detail
verb (ɪˈlæbəˌreɪt)
(intransitive; usually foll by on or upon) to add information or detail (to an account); expand (upon)
(transitive) to work out in detail; develop
(transitive) to make more complicated or ornate
(transitive) to produce by careful labour; create
(transitive) (physiol) to change (food or simple substances) into more complex substances for use in the body
Derived Forms
elaborately, adverb
elaborateness, noun
elaboration, noun
elaborative (ɪˈlæbərətɪv) adjective
elaborator, noun
Word Origin
C16: from Latin ēlabōrāre to take pains, from labōrāre to toil
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 elaborate

1590s, "produced by labor," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare "to exert oneself" (see elaboration). Meaning "very detailed" is from 1620s.


c.1600, "to build up from simple elements," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare (see elaboration). Meaning "to work out in detail" is attested from 1610s. Related: Elaborated; elaborating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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