What does "embroidered on" mean in the following passage (emphasis added)?

The report embroidered on the theme that was to become a hallmark of the WDRs: urging a reliance on the market mechanism, replacing public monopolies (in urban transport, for example) by private firms, and sharply pruning and streamlining regulation.

Development Economics through the Decades: A Critical Look at 30 Years of the World Development Report, Shahid Yusuf, page 30

1 Answer 1


Embroidery (verb) is fancy sewing using coloured threads onto some plain cloth to make an aesthetically pleasing design. Embroidery (noun) is the finished article. Note that the threads are not structurally important, they add beauty, the cloth itself is the structure.

The analogy here is that the report is elaborating upon the central subject: replacing public monopolies, adding many details. The dictionary definition indicate that such writing is often over-elaborate (beauty over substance) or even down-right exaggerated.

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