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Idioms about dress

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

Origin of dress

First recorded in 1275–1325; Middle English dressen, from Anglo-French dresser, dresc(i)er, “to arrange, prepare,” Old French drecier, from unattested Vulgar Latin dīrēctiāre, derivative of Latin dīrēctus direct; noun use of verb in sense “attire” from circa 1600

synonym study for dress

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.


half-dressed, adjectiveoutdress, verb (used with object)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2022


What does dress mean?

A dress is a piece of clothing made up of a blouse and skirt in one piece.

Dress can also refer to any formal attire, as in We’ve decided the wedding will be informal dress, with shorts and sneakers allowed.

Dress can refer to clothing in general, especially for a specific group of people or time period, as in Men’s dress from the 1800s included top hats and greatcoats.

To dress means to put clothes on or prepare for an event involving formal clothing, as in While pajamas are comfy, you do have to get dressed for school, you know.

As an adjective, dress almost always refers to clothes thought to be fancy or formal, such as dress pants or dress shoes. Fancy dress usually means a costume for a ball or masquerade, however.

Example: The event got cancelled right after I finished getting dressed for it.

Where does dress come from?

The first records of the verb dress come from the late 1200s. It comes from the

Old French drecier and may come from the Latin dīrēctus, meaning “direct.” The first records of the noun dress meaning “attire” come from the 1600s.

Dress usually refers to the one piece blouse-and-skirt item traditionally worn by girls and women, but it can also refer to many types of clothing such as costumes, disguises, uniforms, or outfits.

As a verb dress can also mean to prepare raw materials through several processes, such as turning lumber into treated wood or cotton into fabric. In the military, to dress can refer to straightening a line, and in medicine it can mean to treat a wound with cloth. In entertainment, to dress is to decorate a set or stage for actors to perform on.

Dressing something can mean completely different things, but all the definitions relate to direct or prepare, making dress a very useful term.

Did you know … ?

What are some other forms related to dress?

What are some synonyms for dress?

What are some words that share a root or word element with dress?

What are some words that often get used in discussing dress?

How is dress used in real life?

Dress is a very common word with many meanings.


Try using dress!

Is dress used correctly in the following sentence?

Val dressed for the first day of school in their favorite outfit.

How to use dress in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for dress

/ (drɛs) /


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

Medical definitions for dress

[ drĕs ]

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.