\ˈdres \

Definition of dress 

(Entry 1 of 3)

transitive verb

1a : to make or set straight

b : to arrange (troops, equipment, etc.) in a straight line and at proper intervals

2 : to prepare for use or service specifically : to prepare for cooking or for the table dress a salad

3 : to add decorative details or accessories to : embellish

4a : to put clothes on dress a child

b : to provide with clothing feed and dress a growing family

5 archaic : dress down

6a : to apply dressings or medicaments to dress a wound

b(1) : to arrange (the hair) by combing, brushing, or curling

(2) : to groom and curry (an animal)

c : to kill and prepare for market or for consumption often used with out

d : cultivate, tend especially : to apply manure or fertilizer to dress a field

e : to put through a finishing process especially : to trim and smooth the surface of (a material, such as lumber or stone)

intransitive verb

1a : to put on clothing

b : to put on or wear formal, elaborate, or fancy clothes dress for dinner

2 of a food animal : to weigh after being dressed often used with out

3 : to align oneself with the next soldier in a line to make the line straight

dress ship

: to ornament a ship for a celebration by hoisting national ensigns at the mastheads and running a line of signal flags and pennants from bow to stern



Definition of dress (Entry 2 of 3)

2 : an outer garment (as for a woman or girl) usually consisting of a one-piece bodice and skirt

3 : covering, adornment, or appearance appropriate or peculiar to a particular time

4 : a particular form of presentation : guise



Definition of dress (Entry 3 of 3)

1 : suitable for a formal occasion dress clothes dress shoes

2 : requiring or permitting formal dress a dress affair

3 : relating to or used for a dress dress material

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Examples of dress in a Sentence


They dressed themselves in a hurry. He dressed the child in a snowsuit. She showered, dressed, and ate breakfast. She dressed warmly for skiing. She is dressing for the opera. They always dress for dinner. The nurse dressed the cut on my knee.


She wore dresses only on special occasions. She wore a short black dress to the party. Her wedding dress was decorated with lace. The guests were clothed in traditional Indian dress. It is wise to wear conservative dress to an interview.


I wore dress pants and a nice sweater. the naval commander wore his dress uniform to the ball
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Recent Examples on the Web: Verb

They're both dressed perfectly for the occasion, with Kate wearing a white polka dotted dress and holding a light pink purse. Suzannah Weiss, Teen Vogue, "Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton Support Serena Williams at Wimbledon," 14 July 2018 In this interlude, she's dressed like what appears to be a female version of Thor, complete with a gavel for a hammer. Emily Wang, Glamour, "Ariana Grande's 'God Is a Woman' Music Video Features a Voice-Over From Madonna," 13 July 2018 He was dressed in a dark shirt while Charlotte was in one of the patterned smock dresses her mother favors. Maria Puente, USA TODAY, "Prince George and Princess Charlotte goof off at palace window, stick out tongues," 10 July 2018 Whether she's dressed for work or a wedding, the Duchess continues to kill the royal style game. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Channeled the Dress She Wore to the Royal Wedding," 10 July 2018 Germany away in March 2017 – this time I was suitably dressed for the occasion, thankfully – saw the customary English flat-back-four altered to a more continental five. SI.com, "90Min World Cup Fan Diaries: Starting to Believe," 8 July 2018 Wiry and muscular, he was invariably dressed in a buckskin suit, fringed at the edges, with a deerskin cap ornamented with a fox tail. Gary Kamiya, SFChronicle.com, "The original Grizzly Adams kept his bears on a chain in SF," 7 July 2018 The catch: They are all dressed in bikinis and high heels, as if this is the swimsuit round in Miss America. Becca Smouse, azcentral, "ABC's 'Bachelor' dating spinoff 'The Proposal' is ... kind of icky," 2 July 2018 He was dressed in blue detention center clothing, and appeared attentive but did not speak, according to the Associated Press. Abigail Abrams, Time, "What to Know About the Suspected Capital Gazette Shooter," 29 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

And a summer dress is a super easy way to check all three of those boxes. Sarah Weinberg, House Beautiful, "It's Always Happy Hour At Emily Henderson's," 12 July 2018 The Indianapolis Shakespeare Company puts on a free modern-dress, two-hours-or-less Shakespeare play each summer in the White River State Park amphitheater. Sarah Bahr, Indianapolis Star, "Ultimate Indiana bucket list: 50+ things to do in Indianapolis and around the state," 11 July 2018 See Meghan's full look below: And again up on the balcony: The dark dress was a marked difference from the off-the-shoulder blush number by Carolina Herrera that Meghan chose for her balcony debut at this year's Trooping the Colour. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Channels Audrey Hepburn for a Day of Events Marking the 100th Anniversary of the RAF," 10 July 2018 Even then, the dresses are usually short, compared to the gowns some girls will rock for their big prom night. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "What is Homecoming?," 9 July 2018 Posing in stables decked out with flowers and lights, the ceremony was a romantic fairytale affair — and Cuoco’s dress was fit for a queen. Anna Millard, refinery29.com, "Kaley Cuoco Is Married & Her Reception Outfit Stole The Show," 1 July 2018 The Kobe burger at Tannin is amazing, a double Winstead is a timeless classic, the double at Pigwich is amazing, and the dress-your-own at the Flea Market is great. Sam Mellinger, kansascity, "Mellinger Minutes: No M.D. for Chiefs' LDT, finding Royals hope (and an All-Star)," 26 June 2018 And yes, the McQueen dress that she's worn multiple times, is one of them. Houston Chronicle, "Outside the Cineplex: Steve McQueen’s ‘Bullit’ and ‘Power Rangers’," 22 June 2018 But sadly, Markle’s reception dress was custom so no one else has been able to buy one just like it … until now. Lisa Ryan, The Cut, "You Can Finally Buy Meghan Markle’s Wedding-Reception Dress," 14 June 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That's the case even if the job does not require dress clothes. Daniel B. Kline, USA TODAY, "7 ways to improve your chances of getting hired," 31 Aug. 2017 Dress code controversies are nothing new, especially in the era of social media. Rafael Guerrero, chicagotribune.com, "Students question dress codes in District U46," 29 Aug. 2017 Factor in alterations: Dress alterations can be costly, so talk to your salon about their policy in advance. Emily Valla, idahostatesman, "Brides beware: Shop for gowns wisely after company files bankruptcy," 21 July 2017 Dress-code-busting aside, these are some excellent, just-DGAF-enough outfits. Megan Gustashaw, GQ, "2017 ESPY Awards: Every Well-Dressed Athlete You Need to See," 13 July 2017 Dress code double standards not only can make summer unbearable but also serve to police people's gender expression. Suzannah Weiss, Glamour, "These Teenage Boys Wore Skirts to School to Protest Dress Code Double Standards," 23 June 2017 Dress Meets Body collection, which is set in a large funnel-like space with a video of Merce Cunningham’s dancers performing in the clothing by viewers’ feet. Steff Yotka, Vogue, "Chief Curator Andrew Bolton Takes Us Inside the Costume Institute's Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit," 1 May 2017 Dress rehearsals are over and the Sky open their season Sunday on the road against the second-ranked Minnesota Lynx. Phil Thompson, chicagotribune.com, "Sky's stock low, but players high on coach Amber Stocks," 12 May 2017 Dress blues and elegant gowns were the order of the day, at the Windsor High School annual Air Force Junior ROTC Ball, on April 22. Dennis Hohenberger, Courant Community, "Annual Junior ROTC Ball Held," 5 May 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'dress.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of dress


14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a


1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1745, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for dress


Middle English, from Anglo-French drescer, dresser to direct, put right, from Vulgar Latin *directiare, from Latin directus direct, past participle of dirigere to direct, from dis- + regere to lead straight — more at right

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Statistics for dress

Last Updated

26 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dress

The first known use of dress was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for dress



English Language Learners Definition of dress

 (Entry 1 of 3)

: to put clothes on (yourself or someone else)

: to put clothes on yourself

: to put on or wear a particular type or style of clothes



English Language Learners Definition of dress (Entry 2 of 3)

: a piece of clothing for a woman or a girl that has a top part that covers the upper body and a skirt that hangs down to cover the legs

: a particular type of clothing



English Language Learners Definition of dress (Entry 3 of 3)

: suitable or required for a formal event


\ˈdres \
dressed; dressing

Kids Definition of dress

 (Entry 1 of 3)

1 : to put clothes on

2 : to put on clothes in a particular way Be sure to dress warmly.

3 : to wear formal or fancy clothes Do I have to dress for dinner?

4 : to apply medicine or bandages to dress a wound

5 : to trim or decorate for display dress a store window

6 : to prepare for cooking or eating dress a chicken dress the salad

dress up

1 : to put on formal or fancy clothes

2 : to put on a costume I'm dressing up as a skeleton.



Kids Definition of dress (Entry 2 of 3)

1 : a piece of clothing for a woman or girl that has a top part that covers the upper body and that is connected to a skirt covering the lower body

2 : clothing He wore traditional dress.



Kids Definition of dress (Entry 3 of 3)

: proper for a formal event dress clothes


\ˈdres \

Medical Definition of dress 

: to apply dressings or medicaments to

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Comments on dress

What made you want to look up dress? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


obstinately defiant of authority

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