\ 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 These are the things that helped those fantasies along—from splurges to dream escapes, and all the reasons to dress up. Ingrid Frahm, Harper's BAZAAR, "This Is The BAZAAR 100," 23 Dec. 2020 Prized for their shiny, green foliage and interesting forms, olive trees are a fun and fairly easy plant to dress up your brightest windows. Arricca Elin Sansone, House Beautiful, "How to Care for an Indoor Olive Tree," 22 Dec. 2020 The fashion industry has had to confront an existential question: What happens now that no one has any reason to dress up? Jim Dwyer, New York Times, "The Sunday Read: ‘The Condition of Black Life Is One Of Mourning’," 20 Dec. 2020 With Cheyenne deciding to dress up as Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to add to the festivities, the pre-teens have passed out candy canes to those both driving and walking through the light display to advertise for their cause. Danielle Wallace, Fox News, "California twins pass out candy canes at neighborhood light display, collect donations for Toys for Tots," 16 Dec. 2020 Their daughter, Julianne Bowersox Gray, remembered how her father used to dress up as Santa when the grandkids were young, the face of holiday cheer always present . Marina Affo, USA TODAY, "Santa comes home: How social media helped this Delaware family reunite with beloved Christmas decoration," 6 Dec. 2020 Get inspired to dress up your black leggings, ahead. Marina Liao, Marie Claire, "Black Leggings Outfits to Live In for the Rest of Winter," 8 Dec. 2020 By all means, though, dress up; just don’t forget your mask! Bridget Read, Vogue, "Single This Halloween? 14 Costumes Guaranteed to Make You Stand Out," 26 Oct. 2020 But what was more charming was seeing stars dress up for no occasion at all. Christian Allaire, Vogue, "This Year, Stars Turned Their Living Rooms Into Red Carpets," 23 Dec. 2020

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 22 Jan. 2021.

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