Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. Delicate and intricate ornamental work made from gold, silver, or other fine twisted wire.
  • n. An intricate, delicate, or fanciful ornamentation.
  • n. A design resembling such ornamentation: filigrees of frosting on a cake.
  • transitive v. To decorate with or as if with filigree.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A delicate and intricate ornamentation made from gold or silver (or sometimes other metal) twisted wire.
  • n. A design resembling such intricate ornamentation.
  • v. To decorate something with intricate ornamentation made from gold or silver twisted wire.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. Ornamental work, formerly with grains or breads, but now composed of fine wire and used chiefly in decorating gold and silver to which the wire is soldered, being arranged in designs frequently of a delicate and intricate arabesque pattern.
  • adj. Relating to, composed of, or resembling, work in filigree. Hence: Fanciful; unsubstantial; merely decorative.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Ornamental work consisting of fine gold, silver, or sometimes copper wire, formed into delicate tracery of scrolls, network, and the like, or of minute grains or plates of metal soldered to a background, or of both combined.
  • n. Any kind of ornamental openwork resembling or analogous to filigree.
  • n. Hence Figuratively, anything very delicate, light, and fanciful or showy in structure; especially, anything too delicately formed to be serviceable; something easily destroyed or injured.
  • Composed of filigree: as, a filigree brooch.
  • To ornament with filigree-work.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • v. make filigree, as with a precious metal
  • n. delicate and intricate ornamentation (usually in gold or silver or other fine twisted wire)

Etymologies

Alteration of French filigrane, from Italian filigrana : Latin fīlum, thread; see gwhī- in Indo-European roots + Latin grānum, grain; see gr̥ə-no- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

Comments

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  • this word has always sounded a bit highbrow to me. but i do like it.

    November 21, 2008

  • "I had more pleasure on the evenings when a ship, absorbed and liquefied by the horizon, appeared so much the same colour as its background, as in an Impressionist picture, that it seemed also to be of the same substance, as though its hull and the rigging in which it tapered into a slender filigree had simply been cut out from the vaporous blue of the sky."

    -- Within a Budding Grove by Marcel Proust, translated by C.K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin, Revised by D.J. Enright, p 525 of the Modern Library paperback edition

    April 26, 2008