Definition of gingerbread in English:



mass noun
  • 1Cake made with treacle or syrup and flavoured with ginger.

    • ‘I can imagine Dorothy taking out the ginger to make gingerbread which her brother liked so much.’
    • ‘It will sell goods like gingerbread, cakes, crafts and Christmas decorations.’
    • ‘This involved all kinds of sweetmeats, tarts, spiced cakes, and gingerbread, consumed with sweet wines.’
    • ‘The castle's chefs are also responsible for the coffee shop fare - look out for fruit cakes, gingerbread and daily specials.’
    • ‘She hadn't had gingerbread since leaving home.’
  • 2often as modifier Elaborate or ornate decoration, especially on the eaves or porch of a building.

    ‘a high-gabled gingerbread house’
    • ‘Small it was, with a picturesque inn, gingerbread houses, and a stinking brewery looming over the landscape a few miles outside of town.’
    • ‘My friend was showing me her family's gingerbread house.’
    • ‘Yet artists and agents, poets, publishers and refugees from war-torn Europe vied for invitations to pass through that gingerbread porch and spend an evening in New York's most fashionable salon.’
    • ‘These 50 hectares are decorated with gingerbread pavilions and bridges; its paths are fringed by gracious palm trees.’
    • ‘In cities, glass and steel high rise office buildings mingle with colonial houses with gingerbread fret-work.’
    ornate, decorated, embellished, adorned, ornamented, fancy, over-elaborate, fussy, busy, ostentatious, extravagant, showy, baroque, rococo, florid, wedding-cake, gingerbread
    View synonyms


  • take the gilt off the gingerbread

    • Make something no longer attractive or desirable.

      • ‘I have achieved my goal of swimming a mile in a session but I can't stop myself from deducting a yard from every other length, which takes the gilt off the gingerbread.’
      • ‘I am sure the fact that he's being included to ‘add interest’ (so help us) will in no way take the gilt off the gingerbread for him.’
      • ‘Rather takes the gilt off the gingerbread doesn't it?’
      • ‘I went on several of these walks, but it was a shame that we were accompanied by a large number of sentries that took the gilt off the gingerbread.’
      • ‘That rather took the gilt off the gingerbread.’
      • ‘The fact is they want London and although it might be possible for the World Athletics Championships to go to Manchester, I think it will in many ways, take the gilt off the gingerbread.’


Middle English (originally denoting preserved ginger), from Old French gingembrat, from medieval Latin gingibratum, from gingiber (see ginger). The change in the ending in the 15th century was due to association with bread.