\ 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

bandage, bind, swathe

Synonyms: Noun

frock, gown

Synonyms: Adjective

dressy, formal

Antonyms: Adjective

casual, informal, sportif, sporty

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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

Danny being free to dress in drag, and to dance and feel himself. Marcus Jones, EW.com, "Are You the One? EP talks sexually fluid cast: 'I could've done five seasons of this' at once," 10 Sep. 2019 On Saturday, a forensics team of about a dozen men and women dressed in white hooded jumpsuits descended on a property near Pigeon Peas, following up on a report of bodies trapped in a collapsed church. New York Times, "Corpses Strewn, People Missing a Week After Dorian Hit the Bahamas," 8 Sep. 2019 And then there’s the constant societal pressures: from the black community to protect and provide for family; from everyone else to dress a certain way, to talk a certain way, to do everything possible to not risk seeming aggressive. San Francisco Chronicle, "Rashad Armstead fills a bag of French fries at his restaurant, Grammie's Down-Home Chicken, in Oakland.," 30 Aug. 2019 Men are expected to dress professionally, but do not wear ties and suit jackets in the summer. Vivian Rachelle, Quartz, "Japan’s #KuToo movement is fighting back against regressive dress codes for women," 29 Aug. 2019 Those looking to dress from the head down can also shop Fouquet's line of silk and wool scarves, organic cotton tees, leather belts and bags, canvas totes and fine jewelry, including pieces featuring his signature matchstick motif. Danielle Directo-meston, The Hollywood Reporter, "Shop Talk: Meghan Markle-Loved Label Everlane's First L.A. Store, Rolling Stones Collab Designs at Maxfield," 23 Aug. 2019 Students on Thursday will take home a note explaining to parents that the school will allow students to dress more comfortably given the conditions inside the school, Harris said. Jesus Jimenez, Dallas News, "'Inside it gets bad': Dallas ISD campus with broken AC more like a middle school sauna," 22 Aug. 2019 The waitress high-steps through a gantlet of carry-on bags, maneuvering her way to the four young men dressed in sweats bearing their college logos. Kalyn Kahler, SI.com, "Madness at 43 Yards: The Bears Kicker Competition Through the Eyes of Those Who Lived It," 21 Aug. 2019 Paramilitary police officers have gathered for drills in the nearby city of Shenzhen, and a video carried by state media late Saturday showed hundreds of riot police officers with shields and batons charging at men dressed in black. Austin Ramzy, BostonGlobe.com, "Hundreds of thousands march in Hong Kong in latest rally," 18 Aug. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Her long black dress is similarly embroidered with the skulls, marigolds and butterflies. Sarah Min, CBS News, "Mattel to debut "Day of the Dead" Barbie celebrating Mexican holiday," 10 Sep. 2019 Her oversize turtleneck sheath dress and fresh-flower crown paired with a bold lip is what Black Girl Magic is made of. Christen A. Johnson, chicagotribune.com, "Bantu knots and baby hairs: Our favorite looks from the Black Girls Rock! awards show," 9 Sep. 2019 She was seen arm-in-arm with her friend actor Tommy Dorfman who was every bit the fashion partner in crime in his red knit shift dress and knee-socks. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Kaia Gerber Is Her Mom’s Doppelgänger in a “Bondage” Birthday Look," 7 Sep. 2019 His first season was a major success with a cast of notable celebrities like Emily Ratajkowski, Rowan Blanchard, and Gwendoline Christie modeling his cake-topper ruffle-y structured dresses. Teen Vogue, "The Best Runway Looks From New York Fashion Week Spring Summer 2020," 7 Sep. 2019 Hashian, who got married on Aug. 18, outdoors in Kauai, Hawaii also gave us a closer look at her dress. Sonja Haller, USA TODAY, "Dwayne 'The Rock' Johnson's wife Lauren shares adorable wedding pics with their daughters," 27 Aug. 2019 Kordei's makeup artist, Grace Pae complemented the purple tones in her dress with a matching violet eye and a hint of gold in the inner corners. Kaleigh Fasanella, Allure, "Normani Is Already Winning the VMAs Red Carpet With Her Shimmery Purple Smoky Eye," 27 Aug. 2019 Another woman wears an elaborate hat, her dress a cascade of frills and lace. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "A Rediscovered Archive from California in the Seventies," 24 Aug. 2019 Her wedding dress mirrors her character's inner journey, starting out pristine and gradually getting more ripped and stained with blood and gore as her hellish wedding night progresses. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Review: Pitch-perfect Ready or Not is a sharp and witty blood-soaked delight," 21 Aug. 2019

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

14 Sep 2019

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 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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More from Merriam-Webster on dress

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with dress

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for dress

Spanish Central: Translation of dress

Nglish: Translation of dress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dress for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dress

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).


one from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan

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