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[em-bel-ish] /ɛmˈbɛl ɪʃ/
verb (used with object)
to beautify by or as if by ornamentation; ornament; adorn.
to enhance (a statement or narrative) with fictitious additions.
Origin of embellish
1300-50; Middle English embelisshen < Anglo-French, Middle French embeliss- (stem of embelir), equivalent to em- em-1 + bel- (< Latin bellus pretty) + -iss- -ish2
Related forms
embellisher, noun
nonembellished, adjective
nonembellishing, adjective
overembellish, verb (used with object)
reembellish, verb (used with object)
unembellished, adjective
1. decorate, garnish, bedeck, embroider. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for embellish
  • Instead of just sequins and beading, the designer used pleating, draping and fabric folds to embellish his ensembles.
  • It's tempting to exaggerate or embellish.
  • There is a small percentage of people who embellish, fabricate, and hype up their backgrounds–they never last long.
  • He avoids the obvious temptations to embellish, instead hitting each note as if it were a bull's eye in a clear, firm voice.
  • I'm not sure what's worse smear campaigns or those who embellish them.
  • You can keep it very simple and streamlined, then embellish it later.
  • Not because they are trying to embellish the truth, but because they actually believe full heartedly what they are saying.
  • In other words, don't embellish or dramatize your story to make it more interesting.
  • So long as they keep to the framework, both singer and player may embellish and improvise.
  • It's a personal choice whether you want to protect, show off, hide or embellish your newly owned device.
British Dictionary definitions for embellish


verb (transitive)
to improve or beautify by adding detail or ornament; adorn
to make (a story) more interesting by adding detail
to provide (a melody, part, etc) with ornaments See ornament (sense 5)
Derived Forms
embellisher, noun
embellishment, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Old French embelir, from bel beautiful, from Latin bellus
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 embellish

mid-14c., "to render beautiful," from Old French embelliss-, stem of embellir "make beautiful, ornament," from em- (see en- (1)) + bel "beautiful," from Latin bellus (see bene-). Meaning "dress up (a narration) with fictitious matter" is from mid-15c. Related: Embellished; embellishing.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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