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[noun awr-nuh-muh nt; verb awr-nuh-ment, -muh nt] /noun ˈɔr nə mənt; verb ˈɔr nəˌmɛnt, -mənt/
an accessory, article, or detail used to beautify the appearance of something to which it is added or of which it is a part:
architectural ornaments.
a system, category, or style of such objects or features; ornamentation:
a book on Gothic ornament.
any adornment or means of adornment.
a person or thing that adds to the credit or glory of a society, era, etc.
the act of adorning.
the state of being adorned.
mere outward display:
a speech more of ornament than of ideas.
Chiefly Ecclesiastical. any accessory, adjunct, or equipment.
Music. a tone or group of tones applied as decoration to a principal melodic tone.
verb (used with object)
to furnish with ornaments; embellish:
to ornament a musical composition.
to be an ornament to:
Several famous scientists were acquired to ornament the university.
Origin of ornament
1175-1225; < Latin ornāmentum equipment, ornament, equivalent to ornā(re) to equip + -mentum -ment; replacing Middle English ornement < Old French < Latin, as above
Related forms
ornamenter, noun
overornament, verb (used with object)
reornament, verb (used with object)
superornament, noun
superornament, verb (used with object)
1. embellishment. 3, 5. decoration. 10, 11. decorate, adorn, grace. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for ornament
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I know a broken heart that went To serve you but as ornament.

    The Two Vanrevels Booth Tarkington
  • It has a head, sometimes carved as an ornament, so that it cannot slip from the hand.

    Four Young Explorers Oliver Optic
  • No wonder they want me in London, as an ornament for the stage, John.'

  • With it, and other species, the ladies form necklaces, and ornament their dresses.

    The Western World W.H.G. Kingston
  • The most original and effective feature of ornament, however, which was introduced by Gothic architects is that of painted glass.

  • I should have liked to buy him and bring him to London with me; he would be an ornament to any house.

    Diversions in Sicily H. Festing Jones
  • "I thought your head was only valuable as an ornament," said he, with affectionate rudeness.

    Geoffrey Hampstead Thomas Stinson Jarvis
  • Nearly anyone can mold an ornament, but few can mold an ornament which is durable.

    Concrete Construction Halbert P. Gillette
British Dictionary definitions for ornament


noun (ˈɔːnəmənt)
anything that enhances the appearance of a person or thing
decorations collectively: she was totally without ornament
a small decorative object
something regarded as a source of pride or beauty
(music) any of several decorations, such as the trill, mordent, etc, occurring chiefly as improvised embellishments in baroque music
verb (transitive) (ˈɔːnəˌmɛnt)
to decorate with or as if with ornaments
to serve as an ornament to
Derived Forms
ornamentation, noun
Word Origin
C14: from Latin ornāmentum, from ornāre to adorn
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 ornament

early 13c., "an accessory," from Old French ornement "ornament, decoration," and directly from Latin ornamentum "apparatus, equipment, trappings; embellishment, decoration, trinket," from ornare "equip, adorn" (see ornate). Meaning "decoration, embellishment" in English is attested from late 14c. (also a secondary sense in classical Latin). Figurative use from 1550s.


1720, from ornament (n.). Middle English used ournen (late 14c.) in this sense, from Old French orner, from Latin ornare. Related: Ornamented; ornamenting.


1720, from ornament (n.). Middle English used ournen (late 14c.) in this sense, from Old French orner, from Latin ornare. Related: Ornamented; ornamenting.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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