1575, from Late Latin ēlabōrātus, past participle of ēlabōrō ("to work out"), from ē- ("out, forth, fully") + labor ("work, toil, exertion"). Pronunciation
  • Adjective: ĭlă'bərət, IPA: /ɪˈlæbəɹət/
  • Verb: ĭlă'bərāt, IPA: /ɪˈlæbəɹeɪt/


  1. Complex, detailed, or sophisticated.
    After reading a long, elaborate description, I was impressed but no wiser.
  2. Intricate, fancy, flashy, or showy.
    I stared for hours at the elaborate pattern in the rug.
    • 1907, Robert William Chambers, chapter I, in The Younger Set, New York, N.Y.: D. Appleton & Company, OCLC 24962326 ↗:
      The house was a big elaborate limestone affair, evidently new. Winter sunshine sparkled on lace-hung casement, on glass marquise, and the burnished bronze foliations of grille and door.
Translations Translations Verb

elaborate (elaborates, present participle elaborating; past and past participle elaborated)

  1. (transitive) to develop in detail or complexity
    • 1871, "Bismarck", All the Year Round (volume 5, page 129)
      […] by the time of the subsequent coronation, when the Prussian king put the crown on his own head in child-like belief of the obsolete doctrine called divine right, the untiring statesman had elaborated his scheme of reform.
  2. (intransitive) (sometimes followed by on or upon, and then the object of the preposition) to expand in detail
    What do you mean you didn't come home last night? Would you care to elaborate?
    Could you elaborate on the plot for your novel for me?

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