window dressing


Definition of window dressing

1 : the display of merchandise in a retail store window
2 a : the act or an instance of making something appear deceptively attractive or favorable
b : something used to create a deceptively favorable or attractive impression


play \ˈwin-dō-ˌdres\ transitive verb

window dresser


Examples of window dressing in a Sentence

  1. These changes are being made for a good reason. They're not just window dressing.

  2. the crime-does-not-pay moralizing is just window dressing for nasty hard-boiled stories

Recent Examples of window dressing from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'window dressing.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of window dressing


in the meaning defined at sense 1

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window dressing Synonyms

Financial Definition of WINDOW DRESSING

window dressing

What It Is

Window dressing is a term that describes the act of making a company's performance, particularly its financial statements, look attractive.

How It Works

Let's assume Company XYZ wants to look attractive to potential acquirers. It might do some window dressing by announcing much higher sales projections, obtaining and holding a lot of cash, or making other announcements that are likely to raise the stock price, even if only for a short time. The objective is to make a favorable impression on potential acquirers.

Companies are not the only ones to engage in window dressing. Mutual funds do it as well, often by cutting their losses and buying high-fliers (sometimes that are not even in the fund's investment sector) near the end of a reporting period.

Why It Matters

Window dressing is an attention-getting maneuver that can venture into unethical or illegal territory. At a minimum, the practice is generally looked upon unfavorably (after all, everyone has experienced the feeling of realizing that something isn't quite what it's cracked up to be). Nonetheless, when done carefully, window dressing can pay off by attracting customers, lenders, or investors.

WINDOW DRESSING Defined for English Language Learners

window dressing

Definition of window dressing for English Language Learners

  • : the act of decorating and arranging products to display in a store window

  • : something that is intended to make a person or thing seem better or more attractive but that does not have any real importance or effect

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