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 formsem·broi·der·er, nouno·ver·em·broi·der, verb (used with object)un·em·broi·dered, adjective

Synonyms for embroider

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for embroider

Contemporary Examples of embroider

Historical Examples of embroider

  • Maidens of the first families were selected to embroider the sacred peplus.


    Lydia Maria Child

  • I learnt to sing rondeaux and to embroider handkerchiefs for my mother.

    My Double Life

    Sarah Bernhardt

  • They agreed to embroider a pair of slippers for her—to do the work themselves.

  • The girls used to sit about indoors and embroider—oh, everlastingly!

    Four Days

    Hetty Hemenway

  • You see at home, when I get my work done, I knit or crochet or embroider.

    Maw's Vacation

    Emerson Hough

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 Formsembroiderer, noun

Word Origin for embroider

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

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