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Corruption of falbala; first attested in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Not related to fur.


  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈfəː.bɪ.ləʊ/, /ˈfəː.bə.ləʊ/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈfɚ.bɪ.loʊ/, /ˈfɚ.bə.loʊ/
  • (file)


furbelow (plural furbelows)

  1. A ruffle, frill or flounce, as on clothing; a decorative piece of fabric, especially one gathered or pleated as into a ruffle, etc.
    • 1840, Frances Milton Trollope, The Widow Barnaby, Richard Bentley, page 165,
      I do not think that from the blissful time when I was sixteen, up to my present solemn five-and-thirty, I could ever have been tempted to look a second time at any miss under the chaperonship of such a dame as that feather and furbelow lady.
    • 1863, John George Wood, The Illustrated Natural History, page 745,
      All the other furbelows, and portions of this one[this Medusa] that lay below the expansion, floated as usual through the water, except that on some occasions an accessory power was obtained by pressing a portion of another furbelow to the side of the glass and making it adhere just like the portion that was exposed to the surface of the air.
    • 1964, E. J. H. Corner, The Life of Plants, 2002, University of Chicago Press, page 76,
      Each plant has several oarweed fronds on the top of a flat stem, well adapted to swaying in one direction but rigid in the other; along the rigid edges, where the water flows and eddies, develop the wavy furbelows.
  2. A small, showy ornamentation.
    • 1954, Alexander Alderson, chapter 4, in The Subtle Minotaur[1]:
      The band played ceaselessly. Even when the other instruments were resting the pianist kept up his monotonous vamping, with a dreary furbelow for embellishment here and there, to which some few of the dancers continued to shuffle round the floor.



furbelow (third-person singular simple present furbelows, present participle furbelowing, simple past and past participle furbelowed)

  1. (transitive) To adorn with a furbelow; to ornament.

Related termsEdit