Build your vocabulary with Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day! Each day a Merriam-Webster editor offers insight into a fascinating new word -- explaining its meaning, current use, and little-known details about its origin.
August 28th, 2016
Episode 630 of 923 episodes
Merriam-Webster's Word of the Day for August 28, 2016 is: embellish \im-BELL-ish\ verb 1 : to make beautiful with ornamentation : decorate 2 : to heighten the attractiveness of by adding decorative or fanciful details : enhance Examples: Kevin later admitted that he may have embellished the truth about the size of the dog that chased him out of the yard. "On Snapchat, where users embellish their selfies with emoji, crayon scribbles, and elaborate 'lenses' that cover their faces with virtual masks, marketers like McDonalds are seizing the opportunity to write their messages across people’s faces." — Amanda Hess, The New York Times, 20 June 2016 Did you know? Like its synonyms adorn, ornament, and garnish, embellish means to make something beautiful by the addition of a decorative or fanciful feature. Traditionally, the word is used specifically to stress the addition of superfluous or adventitious ornament, as in "The printer embellished the page with a floral border." Embellish differs from its synonyms, however, in that it is sometimes used in a euphemistic way to refer to the inclusion of details that are not necessarily true to make a story sound more appealing. The word derives via Middle English from the Anglo-French verb embelir, from en- and bel ("beautiful").