General English


  • verb to withhold salary or property because a person has debts or taxes which are unpaid


  • A decoration, always edible, added to a savoury dish to enhance its appearance, ranging from the simple sprig of a herb, to very elaborate garnishes which are often more difficult to prepare than the main dish


  • verb to tell a debtor to pay his or her debts, not to the creditor, but to a creditor of the creditor who has a judgment


  • noun a small piece of food used as a decoration
  • verb to decorate, especially food

Origin & History of “garnish”

Garnish was originally a fairly utilitarian verb, meaning simply ‘fit out, equip, supply’ or ‘adorn’. Its modern culinary application did not develop until the late 17th century. It came from garniss-, the lengthened stem of the Old French verb garnir ‘equip, adorn’. this was borrowed from prehistoric Germanic *warnjan, which presumably came from the same base as produced *warnōjan ‘be cautious, guard, provide for’ (source of English warn). The notion of ‘warning’ is preserved in the legal term garnishee (17th c.), applied to someone who is served with a judicial warning not to pay their debt to anyone other than the person who is seeking repayment.