\ ˈdres-ˌəp How to pronounce dress-up (audio) \
plural dress-ups

Definition of dress-up

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a time or occasion for which fancy or formal clothing is worn Miller used to favor high-necked lace blouses for dress-up and fishing hats for play.— Curry Kirkpatrick Marla feels comfiest in jeans and sweats but likes soft beiges for dress-up.People Weekly Also like their parents, children want a wardrobe that is suitable for a variety of activities: play, school and dress-up.— Andrea Skinner
2 : a game or activity (as for children) that involves dressing up in special clothing or costumes Most young children like to play dress-up, parading around the house in their dad's wing tips or smearing their mom's lipstick all over their face.— Christine Gorman Nina was petite but too muscular to wear her mother's cast-off Chanel. She was like a girl playing dress-up.— Tom Jenks I drew pictures with her and played dress-up with our mother's party gowns.— Lorene Cary So get in the spirit with these costume parties, haunted tours, pet dress-ups, … and haunted houses.Cincinnati.com

dress up

dressed up; dressing up; dresses up

Definition of dress up (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to make more attractive, glamorous, or fancy dress up a plain dessert with a rich chocolate sauce
2a : to attire in best or formal clothes
b : to attire in clothes suited to a particular role
3 : to present in the most attractive or impressive light a fiasco dressed up as a triumph

intransitive verb

: to get dressed up

Synonyms for dress-up

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of dress-up in a Sentence

Verb we always like to dress up when going to parties the war was a fiasco that the administration tried to dress up as a triumph
Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Nick loves to longboard, dress up and go out in the city to art galleries, museums and artistic events. Kara Warner, PEOPLE.com, 14 June 2022 There are ornate writing desks and four-poster beds in each bedroom, waiters carry silver trays of gins and tonic out to the pool before lunch, and long mahogany tables are laid for dinner, when guests are encouraged to dress up and mingle. Melissa Twigg, CNN, 20 May 2022 On a day when his team’s defensive slip was showing, Justin Herbert had to dress up and stand up. Nick Canepa Columnist, San Diego Union-Tribune, 17 Oct. 2021 Attendees are encouraged to dress up and decorate their cars for a chance to win a prize. courant.com, 6 Oct. 2021 Our customer is inspired to dress up and be social again. Rachel Besser, Vogue, 24 Sep. 2021 To dress up your porch and give yourself a cozy seat to start the day, consider the Shine Company Vermont Rocking Chair that's charming, comfortable, and on sale right now. Sanah Faroke, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Sep. 2021 It was designed to just give us all a reason to dress up and skate. Janay Kingsberry, Washington Post, 21 May 2022 All came together to provide women with a reason to dress up again—and wear new jewelry. Beth Bernstein, Forbes, 11 May 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of dress-up


1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1513, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 2a

History and Etymology for dress-up


from the phrasal verb dress up

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Time Traveler for dress-up

Time Traveler

The first known use of dress-up was circa 1513

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Dictionary Entries Near dress-up

dress up



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Statistics for dress-up

Cite this Entry

“Dress-up.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress-up. Accessed 30 Jun. 2022.

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