Definition of ribbon in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈrɪb(ə)n/


1A long, narrow strip of fabric, used for tying something or for decoration: the tiny pink ribbons in her hair [mass noun]: four lengths of ribbon
More example sentences
  • Her first effort involved a pair of handkerchiefs, a length of pink ribbon and a thread to stitch them together - made simply to free herself from the grip of the corset.
  • Selfridges is promising a wrapping service using vintage and recycled ribbons, bows and fabrics.
  • Baubles can be painted, stencilled, sprayed, wrapped or decorated with fabric, ribbons, glitter, pearls and beads.
1.1A ribbon of a special colour or design awarded as a prize or worn to indicate the holding of an honour, especially a small multicoloured piece of ribbon worn in place of the medal it represents: his medal ribbons were bright as a rainbow
More example sentences
  • Winners will be awarded medals and ribbons with the Special Olympics South Africa logo.
  • What is the significance of the ribbons, insignia and medals?
  • It is an overwhelming, overflowing kaleidoscope of color, faces, tanned bodies, trophies, medals and ribbons.
1.2 (ribbons) Prizes; honours: in the Silk Cup trophy class Mullins stayed in the ribbons
More example sentences
  • In our amateur classes, we were actually in the ribbons, having our names announced for the first time!
2A long, narrow strip: slice the peppers into ribbons lengthways
More example sentences
  • Using a mandoline or a very sharp knife, finely slice carrots lengthways into ribbons.
  • An orange ribbon of flame is charring its way across more than 20,000 acres near Los Angeles.
  • The A888 is a narrow ribbon of tarmac that curls and loops around the inlets and headlands of the Hebridean island of Barra.
2.1A narrow band of impregnated material wound on a spool and forming the inking agent in some typewriters and computer printers: the notes had been typed on an old portable with a faded ribbon
More example sentences
  • For example, they are used to provide the black color in inks, pigments, rubber tires, stove polish, typewriter ribbons, and phonograph records.
  • In 1888, the typewriter ribbon was patented by Jacob L. Wortman.
  • Final reports were prepared on manual typewriters with two-color ribbons so that totals appeared in red.


[no object, with adverbial of direction]
Extend or move in a long, narrow strip like a ribbon: miles of concrete ribboned behind the bus
More example sentences
  • Just when the filigree of family ties here splays open from my blood, ravelling into the mossy veins ribboning along through the dark peat, shadows in another land take form, tugging on my twine of years tangled in that other place.
  • Laura Smith's colour-crammed back-projections, with captions ribboning up the side, are now fully-fledged and better-timed.
  • But dead ahead, far away across the valley where the ground began to rise sharply again in stands of pine, a narrow white swath of cleared ground ribboned through the dark trees, clearly visible.



cut a (or the) ribbon

Ceremonially open a building or road, typically by cutting a ribbon across the entrance: the MP cut a ribbon to mark the completion of the new bypass figurative the firm cut the ribbon on a £30 million joint venture in Beijing
More example sentences
  • A long-time resident of Cullingworth, Elsie Hollingsworth, and a pupil from Cullingworth Primary School, Jessica Darnbrook, officially opened the trail by cutting a ribbon in a ceremony at the viaduct.
  • West Wiltshire MP Dr Andrew Murrison cut the ribbon to open the £475,000 building, which was jointly funded by the college and the Learning and Skills Council.
  • After a blessing by branch chaplain Father John Tyrrell, Mayor Everitt and John Gould cut the ribbon to officially open the building.

cut (or tear) something to ribbons

Cut (or tear) something so badly that only ragged strips remain: the counterpane had been cut to ribbons
More example sentences
  • The machete stabbed and slashed, cutting his shirt to ribbons.
  • Take one item, set it on fire or tear it to ribbons (you'll love it, trust me), then box the rest up and send them to the Goodwill.
  • At the height of the battle, three other enemy ships were also pouring death into the ‘Billy Ruffian'. Shot tore away sails, ripped up deck planking, cut hammocks to ribbons and hurled guns from their carriages.
2.1Damage something severely: the country has seen its economy torn to ribbons by recession
More example sentences
  • On the physical side my hands are cut to ribbons, I have never cut and scratched myself at work like I have in the past few weeks, this also included a major electric shock which left a burn on my right wrist (now faded).
  • It was fine with people, as far as we knew, but it nearly tore another dog to ribbons and the staff had to deal with that.
  • Apparently it's not enough to sue 12 year-old girls, they have to make make sure your favourite TV shows are cut to ribbons as well.



Example sentences
  • After we left, the newlyweds would slip off to an historic San Antonio hotel, carrying a ribboned picnic basket of champagne and pate and Brie and baguettes.
  • It is topped with candied hazelnuts and whole roast almonds, and is beautifully presented in a ribboned package, so it looks very festive, too.
  • Maggie dashed off and quickly returned with a ribboned box.


Early 16th century: variant of riband. The French spelling ruban was also frequent in the 16th–18th centuries.

Words that rhyme with ribbon


For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: rib¦bon

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