dress

1 of 3

verb

dressed; dressing; dresses

transitive verb

1
a
: 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
4
a
: to put clothes on
dress a child
b
: to provide with clothing
feed and dress a growing family
5
archaic : dress down
6
a
: 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

1
a
: 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

2 of 3

noun

1
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

dress

3 of 3

adjective

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
Phrases
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

Example Sentences

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web
Verb
Add a sprig of greenery or flower underneath each wood napkin ring for a quick and easy way to dress it up a little more. Jennifer Carmichael, Better Homes & Gardens, 22 Nov. 2022 While Rih Rih gave us a picture-perfect example of how to dress them up. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, 21 Nov. 2022 Wimbledon's strict dress code has led to some players, and the sports brands that dress them, to get creative over the years. Tracey Harrington Mccoy, Peoplemag, 17 Nov. 2022 Just remember to dress it up with a scarf, some buttons, and a hat. Elizabeth Berry, Woman's Day, 15 Nov. 2022 Here, suitably smart shoes to try—plus trouser-and-sock pairings to help dress them down. WSJ, 11 Nov. 2022 Kits come in themes like mezcal Margarita, Bees Knees, and smoky Paloma, along with all the requisite bitters and garnishes to really dress them up. Mark Stock, Men's Health, 21 Oct. 2022 Then dress it up with parsnip nose, hair made out of a twigs, and witch's hat. Monique Valeris, Good Housekeeping, 5 Oct. 2022 Slagle’s recipes assume a certain worldliness on the part of the reader, but then dress it down: there’s a croque Monday (a simplified, open-faced monsieur), and a French onion white-bean bake (made with canned cannellini). Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, 22 Sep. 2022
Noun
This super soft sweater wrap dress is just $60 for a limited time in the heather gray color, and would pair perfectly with ankle boots and a cool coat or winter vest for a day-to-night look that won't quit. Jennifer Chan, Peoplemag, 25 Nov. 2022 An off-the-shoulder Khaite mini dress will be a staple in your closet this holiday party season. Laura Jackson, Vogue, 25 Nov. 2022 The fan-favorite exercise dress is one of many irresistible fitness deals at Outdoor Voices this week. Tiffany Dodson, Harper's BAZAAR, 23 Nov. 2022 This body-hugging, sought-after lounge dress is comfy, cozy, and Kim K approved. Christian Gollayan, Men's Health, 21 Nov. 2022 The dress was the penultimate outfit to hit the runway in Versace's spring-summer 2023 ready-to-wear show in Milan in September. Jacqui Palumbo, CNN, 18 Nov. 2022 The dress was black, off-the-shoulder, short, and form fitting. Dina Gachman, Glamour, 17 Nov. 2022 The slip-dress is an elegant go-to for every season. Rachel Bogo, Seventeen, 16 Nov. 2022 The strapless dress and matching scarf are unmistakeable. Janaya Wecker, Town & Country, 14 Nov. 2022
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 See More

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.

Word History

Etymology

Verb

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

First Known Use

Verb

14th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1a

Noun

1586, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Adjective

1745, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near dress

Cite this Entry

“Dress.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/dress. Accessed 29 Nov. 2022.

Kids Definition

dress 1 of 3

verb

1
: to make or set straight
2
a
: to put clothes on
b
: to provide with clothing
c
: to put on or wear formal or fancy clothes
3
: to trim or decorate for display
4
: to put in order
5
a
: to apply dressings or medicine to
dress a wound
b
: to arrange (as the hair) by combing, brushing, or curling
d
: to kill and prepare for market
dress a chicken
e
: to apply manure or fertilizer to
6

dress

2 of 3

noun

1
2
: an outer garment with a skirt for a woman or child
3
: clothing appropriate to a particular time or occasion
Roman dress
evening dress

dress

3 of 3

adjective

1
: suitable or required for a formal occasion
dress clothes
2
: relating to or used for a dress

Medical Definition

dress

verb

: to apply dressings or medicaments to

More from Merriam-Webster on dress

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!


Words Named After People

  • name tags
  • Namesake of the leotard, Jules Léotard had what profession?
Name That Thing

You know what it looks like… but what is it called?

TAKE THE QUIZ
Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

TAKE THE QUIZ