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

  • noun A ruffle or flounce on a garment.
  • noun A piece of showy ornamentation.
  • transitive verb To decorate with a ruffle or flounce.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • To furnish or ornament with furbelows or elaborate embellishments.
  • noun A piece of stuff plaited and puckered on a gown or petticoat; a plaited or puffed flounce; the plaited border of a petticoat or skirt.
  • noun Hence An elaborate adornment of any kind.
  • noun The Laminaria bulbosa, a species of seaweed having a large wrinkled frond, found on the coasts of England.
  • noun Some part or process like a fringe or flounce.

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

  • noun A plaited or gathered flounce on a woman's garment.
  • transitive verb To put a furbelow on; to ornament.

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

  • noun A ruffle, frill or flounce on clothing.
  • noun A decorative piece of fabric, usually gathered or pleated.
  • noun A small, showy ornamentation.
  • verb transitive To adorn with a furbelow; to ornament.

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

  • noun a strip of pleated material used as a decoration or a trim


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

[Probably alteration of Provençal farbello, farbella, fringe, perhaps alteration of Italian faldella, pleat, diminutive of falda, flap, loose end, of Germanic origin; see pel- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • There wasn't a single frill, flower or furbelow in her house, and he suspected her mind was just as streamlined.

    Hot For Him Mayberry, Sarah 2007

  • For the rest; the dress was made with extreme simplicity, guiltless of flounce or furbelow; it was but the light fabric and bright tint which scared me, and since Graham found in it nothing absurd, my own eye consented soon to become reconciled.

    Villette 2003

  • Let a woman appear with an unaccustomed furbelow, or a family of a workman that is earning a fat salary, eat two succulent dishes the same week, public opinion will quickly make evident its sentiments, and swiftly put things to rights.

    With Those Who Wait Frances Wilson Huard

  • Lady Craufurd is now dressing for it, with more roses, blood, and furbelow than were ever yet enlisted (?).

    George Selwyn: His Letters and His Life Helen [Editor] Clergue

  • A furbelow of precious stones, a hat buttoned with a diamond, a brocade waistcoat or petticoat, are standing topics.

    The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 10, No. 267, August 4, 1827 Various

  • Her sex was the very essence of her; she had no need to wear it like a furbelow.

    The Nest Builder Beatrice Forbes-Robertson Hale

  • "B ` ism Allah" (a Moor mounts and dismounts in the name of God), with a man at his stirrups, he sinks without an effort into his saddle, amidst a furbelow of white robes, which he has afterwards arranged carefully for him.

    In the Tail of the Peacock Isabel Savory

  • The Shaggy Man found his bed = soft and luxurious, so he slipped off his shaggy clothes, carefully = arranging them on a chair so that not one frill or furbelow was out of = place, put on the pajamas which Conjo had also provided for him, and = slipped into bed.

    The Shaggy Man of Oz Snow, Jack 1949

  • Kedzie's soul expanded to the ultimate fringe of the farthest furbelow.

    We Can't Have Everything Rupert Hughes 1914

  • The dresses held an atmosphere of evaporated frivolity; flirtations lingered in every frill, and memories of old larks lurked in every furbelow.

    Mr. Opp Alice Caldwell Hegan Rice 1906


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  • ...among the bric-a-brac and furbelows, he found Miss Painter seated in a redundant purple armchair...

    - Edith Wharton, The Reef

    June 21, 2008

  • Was the armchair redundant because it was purple among bric-a-brac and furbelow or because there were many purple armchairs about?

    June 21, 2008

  • We should ask The Oracle.

    June 24, 2008

  • I was wondering that myself, dontcry. I think it might have been the purpleness that made the armchair redundant, i.e. in Wharton's (or the protagonist's) opinion purpleness renders armchairs redundant, but to be honest I'm stumped.

    June 24, 2008

  • If you want to see a real redundant purpleness effect just visit the NYU area.

    June 24, 2008

  • Furbelow, furabove, furaway . . .

    April 5, 2009