\ ˈdres \

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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Examples of dress in a Sentence


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.


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.


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

Next came Joanna, dressed in a gold-and-crimson robe, her blond hair gleaming in the morning sun. Anne Thériault, Longreads, "Queens of Infamy: Joanna of Naples," 3 July 2018 Kids dressed like cows (or, in this case, calves) can get a free kid's meal. Mallorie Sullivan, Cincinnati.com, "Want free Chick-fil-A? Here's how to snag an entree on Cow Appreciation Day," 29 June 2018 The event will round out with its signature cosplay fashion show — where attendees dressed as their favorite (G-rated) comic, anime or action hero character, can walk the runway. Emily Bloch, Sun-Sentinel.com, "Teen comic convention returns in Davie," 13 July 2018 McQuarrie, purposefully dressed in the patriotic blue, white and red colors of the French flag, jostled to get to the center of the big pic. Rhonda Richford, The Hollywood Reporter, "The 'Mission Impossible — Fallout' Cast on How Paris Inspired the Latest Action-Packed Installment," 13 July 2018 One is dressed with butter and soy sauce and tossed with pieces of sea urchin; another is sweet and simple, tangy with ketchup. New York Times, "Things to Do in NYC: Astoria for a Pool Day, and Open-Mic Night Plus Dumplings in Chinatown," 12 July 2018 Some wrapped themselves in the national flag while others welcomed their children – dressed in tiny checkerboard Croatian kits – onto the field. Kevin Baxter, latimes.com, "Croatia advances to World Cup final with 2-1 win over England," 12 July 2018 The Ministry of Tourism has marketed the country using skimpily dressed women before. The Economist, "Why a mayor in Lebanon has dressed policewomen in hot pants," 12 July 2018 Use a surface dressing like pebbles to thwart them. Kenneth Setzer, miamiherald, "Houseplant advice for the millennial (or anyone) who doesn’t have a green thumb," 11 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Cervantes’s Luar wedding dress might have been the center of attention (and for good reason), but the DJ’s daring look just about steals the spotlight. Rachel Hahn, Vogue, "The Best Fashion Instagrams of the Week: Slick Woods Shows Off Her Fresh Pregnancy Style and More," 14 July 2018 Starting this summer, park attendees can buy replicas of Hermoine’s purple Yule Ball dress (previously only child sizes were available) and Severus Snape’s robe. Carly Mallenbaum, USA TODAY, "Taste test: New Butterbeer Ice Cream at Harry Potter's Wizarding World," 12 July 2018 She's chosen feminine dress silhouettes, and for her entire first month as a royal kept to a strict color palette of white, beige, and blush. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Meghan Markle Wears a Chic Black Suit on Her Second Day in Ireland," 11 July 2018 Meanwhile, Meghan has already hung up her taupe Roland Mouret dress at the back of the closet, and changed into a more casual Givenchy look. Lucy Wood, Marie Claire, "Meghan Markle Braves Athletic Field in Heels at Ireland's Croke Park," 11 July 2018 The dress material is light and airy, yet structured and flattering. SFChronicle.com, "25 ways to chase your perfect Bay Area summer," 11 July 2018 The subsequent evening gown competition showed off the young women in elegant dresses but also challenged them to answer impromptu questions. Julie Gallant, Ramona Sentinel, "Megan Kelly crowned 2018 Miss Ramona," 10 July 2018 Giggles aside, the pair made a lovely appearance at the Royal Air Force celebrations, with Prince William dressed in uniform and Middleton in an Alexander McQueen coat dress. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Kate Middleton Catches Prince William Laughing in Westminster Abbey," 10 July 2018 In answer to your query, Bob: (1) Tuesday night is dress-up night at the San Francisco Opera. Leah Garchik, SFChronicle.com, "The bride nixes a crimson mother-in-law," 9 July 2018

Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

That's the case even if the job does not require dress clothes. Daniel B. Kline, USA TODAY, "7 ways to improve your chances of getting hired," 31 Aug. 2017 Dress code controversies are nothing new, especially in the era of social media. Rafael Guerrero, chicagotribune.com, "Students question dress codes in District U46," 29 Aug. 2017 Factor in alterations: Dress alterations can be costly, so talk to your salon about their policy in advance. Emily Valla, idahostatesman, "Brides beware: Shop for gowns wisely after company files bankruptcy," 21 July 2017 Dress-code-busting aside, these are some excellent, just-DGAF-enough outfits. Megan Gustashaw, GQ, "2017 ESPY Awards: Every Well-Dressed Athlete You Need to See," 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, "These Teenage Boys Wore Skirts to School to Protest Dress Code Double Standards," 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, "Chief Curator Andrew Bolton Takes Us Inside the Costume Institute's Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between Exhibit," 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, "Sky's stock low, but players high on coach Amber Stocks," 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, "Annual Junior ROTC Ball Held," 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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Statistics for dress

Last Updated

14 Sep 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for dress

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

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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 \
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 \

Medical Definition of dress 

: to apply dressings or medicaments to

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Comments on dress

What made you want to look up dress? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


alleviating pain or harshness

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