There is a word in English which is used to describe the technique used by authors where they describe the surroundings (like sight, sounds, smells, etc.) to make the scene more rich.

Like "there was fresh sand between the driveway paving stones and a diminutive sapling on the lawn" to describe that the house is new.

What is that word?

  • The word is embellishment. Aug 16, 2013 at 3:18

5 Answers 5



The type of imagery from your example ("there was fresh sand between the driveway paving stones and a diminutive sapling on the lawn") would be visual. You're attempting to paint a picture in the reader's mind to describe the house as being new.

You can use imagery to appeal to any of your reader's senses. Attempting to describe a particular smell would be one...

The acrid stench of burnt hair lingered in the air.

EDIT: Wikipedia has a decent description of sensory imagery.

  • All the other answers made me laugh, so this must be the right one.
    – nohat
    Aug 13, 2010 at 19:33
  • As far as I know, this kind of writing is generally referred to as a descriptive sentence/passage/paragraph, so why this answer was upvoted I have no idea. Perhaps it's a portmanteau or something.
    – delete
    Aug 14, 2010 at 3:26
  • @Shinto - I simply supplied an answer that I felt fit the question. The manner in which Surya asked and described the question made me think of sensory imagery.
    – Jagd
    Aug 14, 2010 at 4:58
  • I don't really have a problem with your answer so much as that it has been upvoted four or more times.
    – delete
    Aug 14, 2010 at 5:03
  • This is part of the answer, but not all of it. The question asks about "sight, sounds, smells, ect (sic)". Aug 23, 2010 at 17:58

Could it be descriptive?

  • +1 This is the right answer. Unfortunately a wrong answer has been upvoted.
    – delete
    Aug 14, 2010 at 3:24
  • Descriptive terms: -Sight -- Visual description -Sound -- Auditory or aural description -Smell -- Olfactory description Aug 23, 2010 at 18:03
  • If the OP is asking for a noun ("the technique used by authors"), then I don't think "descriptive" is a suitable answer.
    – Andrew Vit
    Apr 12, 2011 at 9:54

The word I think you are looking for is "Setting"


When overdone, this is known as Purple prose. Purple prose refers to applying descriptive imagery excessively, extravagantly or unnecessarily. That may be the term you're looking for.

If you're not after a disparaging term, then "descriptive" is probably right.


That would be an example of a sensory image. Sensory imagery includes: visual/sight, auditory/sounds, tacile/touch, Smell, etc.

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