\ 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

Synonyms: Noun

Synonyms: Adjective

Antonyms: Adjective

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Examples of dress in a Sentence

Verb 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. Noun 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. Adjective 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 The Maple Leafs signed 24-year-old University of Toronto goalie Alex Bishop to an amateur tryout to dress as backup to starter Jack Campbell against the Ottawa Senators Saturday night. BostonGlobe.com, 17 Oct. 2021 Some of the tour takes place outdoors so visitors are encouraged to dress accordingly. Rashika Jaipuriar, The Indianapolis Star, 7 Oct. 2021 With two exhibition games left, the Lightning essentially entered Tuesday’s contest with four forwards fighting for one or two spots, depending on whether the team decides to dress six or seven defensemen. Tribune Wire Reports, orlandosentinel.com, 5 Oct. 2021 South Alabama is borrowing from Penn State for the Louisiana game, asking fans and students to dress all in white. Creg Stephenson | Cstephenson@al.com, al, 1 Oct. 2021 As kids grow, things like learning to dress, read or ride a bike are chances for their self-esteem to grow. Liz Krieger, Good Housekeeping, 28 Sep. 2021 These two designs showcase a social and political consciousness that past Latin American designers have stayed away from, preferring to dress the wealthy in traditionally conservative silhouettes with hefty price tags. Frances Solá-santiago, refinery29.com, 25 Sep. 2021 Carbon-fiber trim is optionally available to dress things up. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 20 Apr. 2021 Ole Miss was without second-leading receiver Jonathan Mingo, who was wearing a boot on his left foot and didn't dress out. John Zenor, ajc, 3 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Michelle is wearing a beautiful green-gold shimmery dress with an irresponsible amount of cutouts. Ali Barthwell, Vulture, 21 Oct. 2021 Porter recently reflected on singer Harry Styles’ American Vogue cover for the 2020 December issue, for which the singer was recognized as revolutionary for wearing a dress. Greg Emmanuel, Essence, 18 Oct. 2021 Pop musician Harry Styles attracted widespread praise — and some outspoken haters — last year for flouting gender norms by wearing a dress on the cover of Vogue. Christi Carras, Los Angeles Times, 18 Oct. 2021 In the adorable images, baby Liberty sits propped up on a bed while wearing a tulle pink dress and a flower crown. Georgia Slater, PEOPLE.com, 18 Oct. 2021 Linda was still wearing the dress her mom made for her and carrying a homemade bookbag. CBS News, 16 Oct. 2021 The star recently posted an Instagram photo of herself sporting Marilyn Monroe-esque curls and wearing a black-and-white polka dot dress with cat-eye sunglasses, a cherry red handbag... and a scarf made of $100 bills. Iris Goldsztajn, Marie Claire, 14 Oct. 2021 The father-daughter duo even coordinated their outfits, with Klum wearing a black Dolce & Gabbana dress, accented with a layer of dark crystals, and Seal donning a matching black suit. Edward Segarra, USA TODAY, 14 Oct. 2021 At the University College London’s Centre for Longitudinal Studies, the Duchess of Cambridge—re-wearing a houndstooth Zara midi dress and a pair of gray Hugo Boss heels—met with leading researchers working on a new holistic study. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, 5 Oct. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective That's the case even if the job does not require dress clothes. Daniel B. Kline, USA TODAY, 31 Aug. 2017 Dress code controversies are nothing new, especially in the era of social media. Rafael Guerrero, chicagotribune.com, 29 Aug. 2017 Factor in alterations: Dress alterations can be costly, so talk to your salon about their policy in advance. Emily Valla, idahostatesman, 21 July 2017 Dress-code-busting aside, these are some excellent, just-DGAF-enough outfits. Megan Gustashaw, GQ, 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, 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, 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, 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, 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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Time Traveler for dress

Time Traveler

The first known use of dress was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near dress




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Statistics for dress

Last Updated

22 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Dress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress. Accessed 26 Oct. 2021.

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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

More from Merriam-Webster on dress

Nglish: Translation of dress for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of dress for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about dress


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