[adjective ih-lab-er-it; verb ih-lab-uh-reyt]


worked out with great care and nicety of detail; executed with great minuteness: elaborate preparations; elaborate care.
marked by intricate and often excessive detail; complicated; ornate.

verb (used with object), e·lab·o·rat·ed, e·lab·o·rat·ing.

verb (used without object), e·lab·o·rat·ed, e·lab·o·rat·ing.

to add details in writing, speaking, etc.; give additional or fuller treatment (usually followed by on or upon): to elaborate upon a theme or an idea.

Origin of elaborate

1575–85; < Latin ēlabōrātus (past participle of ēlabōrāre) worked out, equivalent to ē- e-1 + labōr- work + -ātus -ate1
Related formse·lab·o·rate·ly, adverbe·lab·o·rate·ness, noune·lab·o·ra·tive, adjectivee·lab·o·ra·tor, nounnon·e·lab·o·rate, adjectivenon·e·lab·o·rate·ly, adverbnon·e·lab·o·rate·ness, nounnon·e·lab·o·rat·ing, adjectivenon·e·lab·o·ra·tive, adjectivequa·si-e·lab·o·rate, adjectivequa·si-e·lab·o·rate·ly, adverbself-e·lab·o·rat·ed, adjectivesu·per·e·lab·o·rate, adjectivesu·per·e·lab·o·rate·ly, adverbsu·per·e·lab·o·rate·ness, nounun·e·lab·o·rate, adjectiveun·e·lab·o·rate·ly, adverbun·e·lab·o·rate·ness, nounun·e·lab·o·rat·ed, adjectivewell-e·lab·o·rat·ed, adjective

Synonym study

2. Elaborate, labored, studied apply to that which is worked out in great detail. That which is elaborate is characterized by great, sometimes even excessive, minuteness of detail: elaborate preparations for a banquet. That which is labored is marked by excessive, often forced or uninspired, effort: a labored style of writing. That which is studied is accomplished with care and deliberation, and is done purposely, sometimes even having been rehearsed: a studied pose.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for elaborate

Contemporary Examples of elaborate

Historical Examples of elaborate

  • "Don't let me detain you," said Halbert, with an elaborate share of politeness.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • The preparations for our reception at Adelaide were most elaborate.

  • He read with pencil in hand, and he had an elaborate system of marking a book.

    The Grand Old Man

    Richard B. Cook

  • Sidney examined with some dismay the elaborate negligee garments in her hand.


    Mary Roberts Rinehart

  • And suddenly it dawned upon him that all this was an elaborate joke.

    The Secret Agent

    Joseph Conrad

British Dictionary definitions for elaborate


adjective (ɪˈlæbərɪt)

planned or executed with care and exactness; detailed
marked by complexity, ornateness, or detail

verb (ɪˈlæbəˌreɪt)

(intr; usually foll by on or upon) to add information or detail (to an account); expand (upon)
(tr) to work out in detail; develop
(tr) to make more complicated or ornate
(tr) to produce by careful labour; create
(tr) physiol to change (food or simple substances) into more complex substances for use in the body
Derived Formselaborately, adverbelaborateness, nounelaboration, nounelaborative (ɪˈlæbərətɪv), adjectiveelaborator, noun

Word Origin for elaborate

C16: from Latin ēlabōrāre to take pains, from labōrāre to toil
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 elaborate

1590s, "produced by labor," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare "to exert oneself" (see elaboration). Meaning "very detailed" is from 1620s.


c.1600, "to build up from simple elements," from Latin elaboratus, past participle of elaborare (see elaboration). Meaning "to work out in detail" is attested from 1610s. Related: Elaborated; elaborating.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper