from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Delicate and intricate ornamental work made from gold, silver, or other fine twisted wire.
  • noun An intricate, delicate, or fanciful ornamentation.
  • noun A design resembling such ornamentation.
  • transitive verb To decorate with or as if with filigree.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To ornament with filigree-work.
  • noun 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.
  • noun Any kind of ornamental openwork resembling or analogous to filigree.
  • noun 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.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun 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.
  • adjective Relating to, composed of, or resembling, work in filigree. Hence: Fanciful; unsubstantial; merely decorative.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

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

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

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


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

[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.]


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  • "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

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

    November 21, 2008