9 Grammatical Pitfalls


[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 embellishing
  • Other politicians have been criticized for embellishing their personal histories to improve their political situation.
  • It may lend a hand by embellishing a cathedral, rhyming a thesis, providing a tyranny with a suitable anthem or mausoleum.
  • So every time the government is found to be embellishing its case, members of the public lose a little bit of faith.
  • Most are of masonry construction and use stone or fired clay known as terra cotta for embellishing windows or gables.
  • embellishing the almost finished work is when the real fun begins.
  • The interpreter renders what is being said in the target language orally without changing or embellishing statements.
  • No doubt this is the artifice of an illustrator intent on embellishing a good story.
  • We briefly sketch the facts, later embellishing this sketch as required in connection with our discussion of particular issues.
  • And, of course, many criminals are wonderful storytellers who enjoy embellishing their lives and crimes.
  • It is of balloon construction finished with clapboards and is devoid of embellishing architectural detail.
British Dictionary definitions for embellishing


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 embellishing



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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