dress ship,
    1. to decorate a ship by hoisting lines of flags running its full length.
    2. U.S. display the national ensigns at each masthead and a larger ensign on the flagstaff.

Origin of dress

1275–1325; Middle English dressen < Anglo-French dresser, dresc(i)er, to arrange, prepare, Old French drecier < Vulgar Latin *dīrēctiāre, derivative of Latin dīrēctus direct; noun use of v. in sense “attire” from circa 1600
Related formshalf-dressed, adjectiveout·dress, verb (used with object)

Synonyms for dress

1. frock. 2. raiment, attire, clothes, habit, garments, vestments, habiliments. 9. clothe, robe, garb.

Synonym study

1. Dress, costume, gown refer to garments for women. Dress is the general term for a garment: a black dress. Costume is used of the style of dress appropriate to some occasion, purpose, period, or character, especially as used on the stage, at balls, at court, or the like, and may apply to men's garments as well: an 18th-century costume. Gown is usually applied to a dress more expensive and elegant than the ordinary, usually long, to be worn on a special occasion: a wedding gown. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for dress

Contemporary Examples of dress

Historical Examples of dress

  • So people say; but he doesn't show it in his dress or way of living.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • From his dress, and the commands he appeared to be issuing, Robert judged that it was the mate.

    Brave and Bold

    Horatio Alger

  • Each modification of your dress makes you seem more bewitching than the last.


    William J. Locke

  • In this resolution he had begun to dress, but before he had finished had begun to have his doubts.

    Weighed and Wanting

    George MacDonald

  • But for her consolation were the matters of food and dress, and of countless junketings.

    Within the Law

    Marvin Dana

British Dictionary definitions for dress



to put clothes on (oneself or another); attire
  1. to change one's clothes
  2. to wear formal or evening clothes
(tr) to provide (someone) with clothing; clothe
(tr) to arrange merchandise in (a shop window) for effective display
(tr) to comb out or arrange (the hair) into position
(tr) to apply protective or therapeutic covering to (a wound, sore, etc)
(tr) to prepare (food, esp fowl and fish) for cooking or serving by cleaning, trimming, gutting, etc
(tr) to put a finish on (the surface of stone, metal, etc)
(tr) to till and cultivate (land), esp by applying manure, compost, or fertilizer
(tr) to prune and trim (trees, bushes, etc)
(tr) to groom (an animal, esp a horse)
(tr) to convert (tanned hides) into leather
(tr) archaic to spay or neuter (an animal)
angling to tie (a fly)
military to bring (troops) into line or (of troops) to come into line (esp in the phrase dress ranks)
dress ship nautical to decorate a vessel by displaying all signal flags on lines run from the bow to the stern over the mast trucks


a one-piece garment for a woman, consisting of a skirt and bodice
complete style of clothing; costumeformal dress; military dress
(modifier) suitable or required for a formal occasiona dress shirt
the outer covering or appearance, esp of living thingstrees in their spring dress of leaves

Word Origin for dress

C14: from Old French drecier, ultimately from Latin dīrigere to direct
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for dress

early 14c., "make straight; direct, guide, control, prepare for cooking," from Old French dresser, drecier "raise (oneself), address, prepare, lift, raise, hoist, set up, arrange, set (a table), serve (food), straighten, put right, direct," from Vulgar Latin *directiare, from Latin directus "direct, straight" (see direct (v.)).

Sense of "decorate, adorn" is late 14c., as is that of "put on clothing." Original sense survives in military meaning "align columns of troops." Dress up "attire elaborately" is from 1670s; dressing down "wearing clothes less formal than expected" is from 1960. To dress (someone) down (1769) is ironical. Related: Dressed; dressing.


c.1600, originally any clothing, especially that appropriate to rank or to some ceremony; sense of "woman's garment" is first recorded 1630s, with overtones of "made not merely to clothe but to adorn." Dress rehearsal first recorded 1828.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for dress




To apply medication, bandages, or other therapeutic materials to an area of the body such as a wound.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.