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plural dress-ups
: 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
: 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

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dressed up; dressing up; dresses up

transitive verb

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

intransitive verb

: to get dressed up

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
Each matinee will be preceded by pre-show dress-up party, a first for the ballet. Lezlie Sterling, Sacramento Bee, 16 Feb. 2024 Chenille and linen present a more casual, sporty vibe, even though these, too, can also be considered dress-up. Charlotte Observer, 1 Feb. 2024 Over the summer Hadid shared an Instagram carousel of snapshots from her idyllic countryside summer that featured several of Khai playing dress-up, picking flowers, and feeding horses. Hanna Lustig, Glamour, 26 Jan. 2024 Manning often shares photos of his kids on Twitter (McGrew is not on social media), which show them spending time in the pool, out to eat and playing dress-up. Emily J. Shiffer, Peoplemag, 19 Jan. 2024 Production enjoys playing dress-up with Beane, and Beane enjoys getting to embody an assortment of feisty vamp archetypes. Daniel Fienberg, The Hollywood Reporter, 15 Jan. 2024 At the same time, makeup can be fun for role-playing dress-up, required for stage performances, and just a form of expression. Rich Scherr, Parents, 9 Jan. 2024 The vehicle is fully equipped with power accessories available for the 1957 model year, including Ford Master Guide power steering, Swift Sure power brakes, power windows, a Town & Country signal-seeking radio, an accessory backup-lights system, and the engine dress-up option. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 8 Jan. 2024 The women also had a little dress-up fun at the Chiefs' annual holiday party at the pop-up bar Miracle on Dec. 1. Erin Clack, Peoplemag, 1 Jan. 2024
Whether styled with straight-leg jeans and a slouchy leather jacket like Holmes, worn with a peacoat and a colorful top like Portman, or dressed up with a pastel pink pantsuit like Blunt, white sneakers add a polished finishing touch to all kinds of outfits. Averi Baudler, Peoplemag, 22 Feb. 2024 Founded by Izzy Polanco, Restyled by Izzy is a vintage shop that prioritizes sustainable and ethical fashion practices as a customer-centric boutique, offering personalized styling recommendations for dressing up for a special occasion or curating their everyday wardrobe. Cassell Ferere, Forbes, 21 Feb. 2024 Comfort is king here, and these yoga pants can be dressed up for class or dressed down for lounging at home. Rebecca Jones, Southern Living, 19 Feb. 2024 The tapered fit is naturally flattering to a wide range of body types and can be dressed up or down for the occasion depending on what shoes they’re paired with. Merrell Readman, Travel + Leisure, 17 Feb. 2024 Wrestling is a very weird, idiosyncratic space that Vince has done his best to dress up as just another corporate media or athletics entity. Allison Morrow, CNN, 13 Feb. 2024 Ancient peoples in North America liked to dress up too. Julia Daye, Sacramento Bee, 13 Feb. 2024 Fabio Teixeira/Anadolu via Getty Images Drummers, stilt walkers, trumpet players and other performers, all dressed up and lacquered in glitter, attract thousands of followers. CBS News, 13 Feb. 2024 Sisters Chloe and Halle Bailey dressed up in matching nude nails and spiraled locs to host an intimate Pandora dinner in New York. India Espy-Jones, Essence, 12 Feb. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'dress-up.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



from the phrasal verb dress up

First Known Use


1865, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

Time Traveler
The first known use of dress-up was circa 1513

Dictionary Entries Near dress-up

dress up



Cite this Entry

“Dress-up.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress-up. Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition

dress up

: to put on one's best or formal clothes
: to put on strange or fancy clothes
dress up for Halloween
Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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