\ ˈdres How to pronounce dress (audio) \
dressed; dressing; dresses

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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Synonyms & Antonyms for dress

Synonyms: Verb

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of dress in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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. Adjective 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 Benally and her team dress in full personal protective equipment in drive-thru booths stationed at busy locations. Zak Podmore, The Salt Lake Tribune, "San Juan County expands in-person voting on the Navajo Nation during the pandemic," 18 Oct. 2020 Children ages 3 to 5 are invited to dress in costume to listen to stories and parade through the library. Post-tribune Staff, chicagotribune.com, "Community news," 16 Oct. 2020 Alison Green, who runs the work advice site Ask a Manager, confirmed that in the past decade, people of all races are experiencing the freedom to dress more casually and dye their hair unnatural colors. Onicia Muller, NBC News, "What does looking 'professional' mean now?," 13 Oct. 2020 After viewing the Paco Rabanna show, Natalia Vodianova took Julien Dossena’s lace slip dress onto the streets. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "This Week, the Best-Dressed Stars Went Green and Glamorous," 12 Oct. 2020 Let the kids dress in their costumes and visit candy bowls set up in different rooms throughout the house. Kirby Adams, The Courier-Journal, "From 'spooktacular' trees to ghoulish treats, how to do Halloween in (safe!) style in 2020," 12 Oct. 2020 And in other forms, child abuse has become ritualized: One practice, in which powerful men molest young boys and force them to dress and dance in girls’ clothing, is widely known as bacha bazi, or boy play. David Zucchino, New York Times, "An Afghan Boy’s Rape and Death Prompt a Rare Response: Arrests," 9 Oct. 2020 Thorne did not play while sitting out his first season but did travel to and dress for some road games. Chris Solari, Detroit Free Press, "Where the Michigan State football QB race stands with opener 3 weeks away," 2 Oct. 2020 Lebenthal had to make an appointment, pass a health screening with a temperature check and dress in full personal protection equipment, or PPE -- all before a staff member escorted him to Arlene's room. Rosa Flores And Denise Royal, CNN, "For seniors in some care centers, loosened Covid-19 rules mean actual hugs and a respite from isolation," 1 Oct. 2020 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Posing in a stunning Givenchy dress with a very low-cut back, Kim showed off her red string thong. Amy Mackelden, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kim Kardashian Models Matthew Williams's First Givenchy Collection on Instagram," 17 Oct. 2020 Cyrus delivers the performance with her powerful vocals while in her Los Angeles yard, decked out in a zebra-print dress with matching gloves and shoes. Anna Chan, Billboard, "Miley Cyrus Puts a Dark Spin on Britney Spears' 'Gimme More' for Her 'MTV Unplugged' Set: Exclusive Video," 15 Oct. 2020 Addison stunned in a ankle length black dress with a cut out and completely sheer side panels. Carolyn Twersky, Seventeen, "Addison Rae Wore a Totally Sheer Dress Before Presenting Harry Styles with a 2020 Billboard Music Award," 15 Oct. 2020 Italian actor Matilda de Angelis went for custom in a black Prada dress and chunky ankle boots, both made from Aquafil’s ECONYL, a nylon material repurposed from fishing nets and textile scraps. Janelle Okwodu, Vogue, "This Week, the Best-Dressed Stars Went Green and Glamorous," 12 Oct. 2020 See that image of Corrin in Diana's wedding dress below. Clark Collis, EW.com, "The Crown star Emma Corrin says wearing Diana's wedding dress was 'as incredible as you could imagine'," 12 Oct. 2020 Fadhi Mohamed in a Bottega Veneta dress, $7,650, bottegaveneta.com and hairstylist’s own headscarf. WSJ, "This Year, Embrace The Magical Power of Dressing Up," 8 Oct. 2020 The limited-edition doll is dressed in a black and lace dress that reaches the floor and is complete with glasses and a cameo brooch. Lauren M. Johnson, CNN, "Mattel adds a Susan B. Anthony Barbie to its line of inspiring women just in time for Election Day," 5 Oct. 2020 Decked out in a floor-length black dress with lace at the sleeves and bodice, the Susan B. Anthony Barbie retails for $29.99. Kate Gibson, CBS News, "Mattel adds Susan B. Anthony to its Barbie lineup," 5 Oct. 2020 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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Time Traveler for dress

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for dress

Last Updated

21 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Dress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress. Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for dress


How to pronounce dress (audio)

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 How to pronounce dress (audio) \
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 How to pronounce dress (audio) \

Medical Definition of dress

: to apply dressings or medicaments to

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