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[em-broi-der] /ɛmˈbrɔɪ dər/
verb (used with object)
to decorate with ornamental needlework.
to produce or form in needlework.
to adorn or embellish rhetorically, especially with ornate language or fictitious details:
He embroidered the account of the shipwreck to hold his listeners' interest.
verb (used without object)
to do embroidery.
to add embellishments; exaggerate (often followed by on or upon).
Origin of embroider
1350-1400; em-1 + broider; replacing Middle English embroderen, frequentative of embroden < Middle French embro(u)der, equivalent to em- em-1 + Old French brosder, derivative of brosd < Germanic (see brad)
Related forms
embroiderer, noun
overembroider, verb (used with object)
unembroidered, adjective
3. elaborate, exaggerate, color, fancify. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for embroider
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Yes, she sewed for a dressmaker who sent her marvelous dresses to embroider.

    Carl and the Cotton Gin Sara Ware Bassett
  • Maidens of the first families were selected to embroider the sacred peplus.

    Philothea Lydia Maria Child
  • I learnt to sing rondeaux and to embroider handkerchiefs for my mother.

    My Double Life Sarah Bernhardt
  • The girls used to sit about indoors and embroider—oh, everlastingly!

    Four Days Hetty Hemenway
  • As she watched Constance sew and embroider, Sister Anne sighed and revealed her grief at her inability to do as much.

  • We'll eat our luncheon, and then you can embroider and I'll read to you some more.

    Cricket at the Seashore Elizabeth Westyn Timlow
  • And I am engaged to embroider altar-cloths and coverings for the reliquaries.

    Chronicles of the Schonberg-Cotta Family Elizabeth Rundle Charles
British Dictionary definitions for embroider


to do decorative needlework (upon)
to add fictitious or fanciful detail to (a story)
to add exaggerated or improbable details to (an account of an event, etc)
Derived Forms
embroiderer, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Old French embroder; see em-en-1, broider
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 embroider

late 14c., from Anglo-French enbrouder, from en- "in" (see en- (1)) + broisder "embroider," from Frankish *brozdon, from Proto-Germanic *bruzdajanan. Spelling with -oi- is from c.1600, perhaps by influence of broiden, irregular alternative Middle English past participle of braid (v.). Related: Embroidered; embroidering.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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embroider in the Bible

The art of embroidery was known to the Jews (Ex. 26:36; 35:35; 38:23; Judg. 5:30; Ps. 45:14). The skill of the women in this art was seen in the preparation of the sacerdotal robes of the high priest (Ex. 28). It seems that the art became hereditary in certain families (1 Chr. 4:21). The Assyrians were also noted for their embroidered robes (Ezek. 27:24).

Easton's 1897 Bible Dictionary
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