[noun awr-nuh-muhnt; verb awr-nuh-ment, -muhnt]
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  1. 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.
  2. a system, category, or style of such objects or features; ornamentation: a book on Gothic ornament.
  3. any adornment or means of adornment.
  4. a person or thing that adds to the credit or glory of a society, era, etc.
  5. the act of adorning.
  6. the state of being adorned.
  7. mere outward display: a speech more of ornament than of ideas.
  8. Chiefly Ecclesiastical. any accessory, adjunct, or equipment.
  9. Music. a tone or group of tones applied as decoration to a principal melodic tone.
verb (used with object)
  1. to furnish with ornaments; embellish: to ornament a musical composition.
  2. 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 formsor·na·ment·er, nouno·ver·or·na·ment, verb (used with object)re·or·na·ment, verb (used with object)su·per·or·na·ment, nounsu·per·or·na·ment, verb (used with object)

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

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British Dictionary definitions for ornament


noun (ˈɔːnəmənt)
  1. anything that enhances the appearance of a person or thing
  2. decorations collectivelyshe was totally without ornament
  3. a small decorative object
  4. something regarded as a source of pride or beauty
  5. music any of several decorations, such as the trill, mordent, etc, occurring chiefly as improvised embellishments in baroque music
verb (ˈɔːnəˌmɛnt) (tr)
  1. to decorate with or as if with ornaments
  2. to serve as an ornament to
Derived Formsornamentation, noun

Word Origin for ornament

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

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.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper