verb (used with object)

  1. to decorate with ornamental needlework.
  2. to produce or form in needlework.
  3. 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)

  1. to do embroidery.
  2. to add embellishments; exaggerate (often followed by on or upon).


  1. to do decorative needlework (upon)
  2. to add fictitious or fanciful detail to (a story)
  3. to add exaggerated or improbable details to (an account of an event, etc)

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.

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