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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

Example Sentences

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
Random thought: If Chris Pratt dressed up as Rip for Halloween, why didn’t his wife Katherine Schwarzenegger dress up as Beth?!? William Earl, Variety, 13 Nov. 2022 Atta Girl Says Grab pine cones and thick ribbon to dress up faux garland covered with pops of real greenery. Alyssa Gautieri, Good Housekeeping, 8 Nov. 2022 For years, fans suggested that Queen Bey and her family should dress up as the cartoon characters. Gabi Thorne, Allure, 4 Nov. 2022 Bonus: make the look a group costume by having two people dress up as Conrad and Jeremiah. Kelsie Gibson, Peoplemag, 26 Sep. 2022 You’ve said that some kids dress up as their favorite Beast Academy monster for Halloween, but what about you? Erica Klarreich, Quanta Magazine, 13 Sep. 2022 Enlarge / PlayStation gamers will continue to be able to dress up like this in Call of Duty games indefinitely, according to Microsoft. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, 9 Nov. 2022 Serena might have another mini to dress up like herself soon enough. Victoria Uwumarogie, Essence, 26 Sep. 2022 Others coat themselves in yellow makeup to dress up like them. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, 23 Sep. 2022 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.

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 8 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition

dress up

: to put on one's best or formal clothes
: to put on strange or fancy clothes
dress up for Halloween
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