\ 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

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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 No matter how employers dress up fully remote work as a perk, workers will primarily bear the price—overtly in terms of home-office expenses, but especially covertly, in psychological costs—and should fight the trend. Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, "You Might Not Realize How Much You Miss the Office," 1 Apr. 2021 While the world has been wearing plenty of sweats during COVID-19, Hadid has shown how to dress up the comfy garment by opting for a pair in a delicious hue. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "You Can Spot Gigi Hadid a Mile Away In Her Newest Look," 1 Apr. 2021 From there, most of the extras are for my comfort or to dress up the interior. Car and Driver, "How We'd Spec It: 2022 Porsche 911 GT3s, All With the Manual," 31 Mar. 2021 While many were eager to dress up and pose in their old haunts, only their stage names are being published because of the delicacy of the subject with some employers, co-workers, friends and family members. New York Times, "What Is Life Without Burlesque?," 25 Mar. 2021 Bite the bullet and dress up as the Easter Bunny yourself. Amy Schwabe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Looking for COVID-friendly Easter alternatives? Here are ideas for safer ways to celebrate with your kids.," 22 Mar. 2021 So, go ahead and dress up every room of the house with houseplants! Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "Can Houseplants Really Improve Indoor Air Quality?," 22 Mar. 2021 Beyoncé would host a Coming to America–themed Halloween party or would dress up as the royal family. Talia Smith, Harper's BAZAAR, "Nomzamo Mbatha Says It’s Not Just About Getting a Seat at the Table, It’s About Building Your Own Room," 19 Mar. 2021 Americans will become more active again, and will dress up to socialize. Rick Helfenbein, Forbes, "Inflation Hovers Over Retail’s Next Chapter As ARP Fuels Biden’s Fire," 17 Mar. 2021

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.

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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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Statistics for dress-up

Cite this Entry

“Dress-up.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress-up. Accessed 19 Apr. 2021.

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