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verb (used with object), dec·o·rat·ed, dec·o·rat·ing.
  1. to furnish or adorn with something ornamental or becoming; embellish: to decorate walls with murals.
  2. to plan and execute the design, furnishings, and ornamentation of the interior of (a house, office, apartment, etc.), especially by selecting colors, fabrics, and style of furniture, by making minor structural changes, etc.: Their house is decorated in French Provincial style.
  3. to confer distinction upon by a badge, a medal of honor, etc.: to decorate a soldier for valor.
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Origin of decorate

1375–1425; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin decorātus (past participle of decorāre), equivalent to decor- (stem of decus) an ornament, splendor, honor (see decent) + -ātus -ate1
Related formso·ver·dec·o·rate, verb, o·ver·dec·o·rat·ed, o·ver·dec·o·rat·ing.re·dec·o·rate, verb, re·dec·o·rat·ed, re·dec·o·rat·ing.un·dec·o·rate, verb (used with object) un·dec·o·rat·ed, un·dec·o·rat·ing.

Synonyms for decorate

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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for decorate

trim, bedeck, illuminate, deck, brighten, grace, renovate, festoon, paint, adorn, perfect, finish, color, enrich, furbish, ornament, gild, burnish, idealize, enhance

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Contemporary Examples of decorate

Historical Examples of decorate

British Dictionary definitions for decorate


  1. (tr) to make more attractive by adding ornament, colour, etc
  2. to paint or wallpaper (a room, house, etc)
  3. (tr) to confer a mark of distinction, esp a military medal, upon
  4. (tr) to evaporate a metal film onto (a crystal) in order to display dislocations in structure
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Word Origin for decorate

C16: from Latin decorāre, from decus adornment; see decent
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

Word Origin and History for decorate


early 15c., from Latin decoratus, past participle of decorare "to decorate, adorn, embellish, beautify," from decus (genitive decoris) "an ornament," from PIE root *dek- "to receive, be suitable" (see decent). Related: Decorated; decorating.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper