dress


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Acronyms, Encyclopedia, Wikipedia.
Related to dress: DRESS Syndrome

casual dress

Clothing that is not considered or defined as being ceremonial, formal, semi-formal, or business dress, typically comfortable and with a wider range of choice regarding color and dimensions (as of length in shirt sleeves, pant legs, and skirts). I had to wear a suit and tie every day in my last job, but I'm happy my new office lets everyone come in casual dress each day. The party is going to be very informal, so please attend in casual dress.
See also: dress

dress to kill

To dress in extravagantly fancy or stylish clothes so as to thoroughly impress others. Mary always dresses to kill, so she turns heads wherever she goes. The chairman of the board will be there tonight, so be sure you dress to kill!
See also: dress, kill

be off like a prom dress (in May)

humorous To leave or depart very quickly or suddenly. Likened crassly to the stereotypical quickness or eagerness with which American high school students have sexual intercourse after the prom. Primarily heard in US. I'll have just one more drink, but I've got to be off like a prom dress after that. Jared was off like a prom dress in May once his ex-girlfriend showed up to the party.
See also: dress, like, off, prom

off like a prom dress (in May)

A humorous phrase said of a quick or sudden departure. Likened crassly to the stereotypical quickness or eagerness with which American high school students have sexual intercourse after the prom. Primarily heard in US. I'll have just one more drink, but I've got to be off like a prom dress after that. Jared was off like a prom dress in May once his ex-girlfriend showed up to the party.
See also: dress, like, off, prom

*(all) dressed up

dressed in one's best clothes; dressed formally. (*Typically: be ~; get ~; get someone ~.) I really hate to get all dressed up just to go somewhere to eat.
See also: dress, up

all dressed up and nowhere to go

 and all dressed up with nowhere to go completely ready for something
that has been postponed or has failed to materialize. (May be literal or figurative.) Tom: I just heard that your company is closed today. Fred: Gee, I'm all dressed up and nowhere to go. The space shot was cancelled, so all the astronauts are all dressed up with nowhere to go.
See also: all, and, dress, nowhere, up

dress for someone

to clothe oneself to please someone. I don't dress for you! Don't tell me how I should look! Sally says she dresses for her friends, but she really dresses for herself.
See also: dress

dress for something

to clothe oneself suitably for some occasion or activity, or for success. Finally, I learned to dress for success. I can wear my tuxedo if you want me to dress for the formal dinner.
See also: dress

dress ( oneself ) up

to dress in fancy dress. They dressed themselves up in their finest. Please dress up for the dance.
See also: dress, up

dress someone down

to bawl someone out; to give someone a good scolding. The drill sergeant dressed down the entire squadron for failing inspection. I'm really late. I know my parents will dress me down when I get home.
See also: down, dress

dress someone or something up

to make someone or something appear fancier than is actually so. The publicity specialist dressed the actress up a lot. They dressed up the hall so it looked like a ballroom.
See also: dress, up

dress someone or something up (in something)

to clothe, decorate, or ornament someone or something in something. She dressed her dolls up in special clothing. She dressed up her dolls in tiny outfits.
See also: dress, up

dress someone up (as someone or something )

to dress someone to look like or impersonate someone or something. She dressed her little girl up as a witch for Halloween. She dressed up her little girl as a fairy.
See also: dress, up

dress (up) as someone or something

to dress in the manner of someone or something. l am going to dress up as a ghost for Halloween. Larry will dress up as the pumpkin from Cinderella.
See also: dress

dressed to kill

 and dressed (up) fit to kill
Fig. dressed in fancy or stylish clothes. (See also dressed (up) fit to kill.) Wow, look at Sally! She's really dressed to kill. A person doesn't go on vacation dressed to kill. When Joe came to pick Mary up for the movie, he was dressed up fit to kill and carrying a dozen roses.
See also: dress, kill

dressed to the nines

 and dressed to the teeth
Fig. dressed very stylishly with nothing overlooked. She showed up for the picnic dressed to the nines. Clare is usually dressed to the teeth in order to impress people.
See also: dress, nine

dress down

to wear informal clothes I dress down if I know I'm just going to be moving boxes of documents at work.
Usage notes: often said about wearing informal clothes at work
See also: down, dress

dress somebody down

also dress down somebody
to tell someone angrily what they have done wrong She dressed him down in front of a large group of his co-workers. He dresses down players on their performance in the games.
See also: down, dress

dress something up

also dress up something
to make something look better or different than it really is No matter how you dress it up, the fact is that we lost. His business record is a string of failures dressed up as successes.
Usage notes: often followed by as, as in the second example
Etymology: based on the literal meaning of dress up (to wear more formal clothes)
See also: dress, up

dressed to kill

wearing clothes that are intended to make people notice you The crowd was young, hip, and dressed to kill.
See also: dress, kill

dressed to the nines

wearing very fashionable or expensive clothes The door opened to reveal a small woman, dressed to the nines for an evening of partying.
See also: dress, nine

done up/dressed up like a dog's dinner

  (British & Australian)
wearing clothes which make you look silly when you have tried to dress for a formal occasion There she was, all dressed up like a dog's dinner, in a ridiculous frilly shirt and a skirt that was far too short.
See also: dinner, done, like, up

be all dressed up and/with nowhere to go

to be dressed and ready to go somewhere nice, but not have anywhere to go Rob rang up and said he had to work late, so there I was, all dressed up with nowhere to go.
See also: all, and, dress, nowhere, up

be dressed to kill

to be wearing clothes which are intended to make people sexually attracted to you Rosie emerged from the house, dressed to kill and clutching a bottle of champagne.
See also: dress, kill

be dressed up to the nines

  (informal)
to be wearing very fashionable or formal clothes for a special occasion They must have been on their way to a wedding or something. They were dressed up to the nines.
See done up up like a dog's dinner
See also: dress, nine, up

First in, best dressed.

  (Australian)
something that you say which means that the first people to do something will get something first or will have an advantage I've got ten free tickets to the movies to hand out, so it's first in, best dressed.
See also: dress, first

mutton dressed (up) as lamb

  (British informal)
an offensive way of saying that a woman is dressed in a style that is more suitable for a much younger woman Do you think this skirt is too short? I don't want to look like mutton dressed as lamb.
See also: dress, lamb, mutton

dress down

1. Scold, reprimand, as in The sergeant will dress down the entire unit. In the 15th century the verb dress alone was used in the sense of "punish," down being added several centuries later. It also gave rise to the noun dressing down for punishment with blows or words. For example, The teacher gave the girls a severe dressing down.
2. Wear informal clothes, as in It's best to dress down for a party like a barbecue. [Mid-1900s] For the antonym, see dress up.
See also: down, dress

dressed to kill

Also, dressed to the nines. Elaborately attired, as in For the opening of the restaurant she was dressed to kill, or At the opera everyone was dressed to the nines. The first of these hyperbolic expressions dates from the early 1800s and uses kill in the sense of "to a great or impressive degree." The phrase to the nines in the sense of "superlative" dates from the late 1700s and its original meaning has been lost, but the most likely theory is that it alludes to the fact that nine, the highest single-digit numeral, stands for "best." Also see gussied up.
See also: dress, kill

dress up

1. Wear formal or elaborate clothes, as in I love to dress up for a party. [Late 1600s] For the antonym, see dress down, def. 2.
2. Put on a costume of some kind, as in The children love dressing up as witches and goblins. [Late 1800s]
3. Adorn or disguise something in order to make it more interesting or appealing. For example, She has a way of dressing up her account with fanciful details. [Late 1600s]
See also: dress, up

dress down

v.
1. To scold or reprimand someone: The teacher dressed down the students for arriving to class late. My parents dressed me down for being rude.
2. To wear informal clothes, befitting an occasion or location: I dressed down for the casual party.
See also: down, dress

dress up

v.
1. To clothe someone or something: They dressed their dolls up in outfits they made themselves. The store owner dressed up the mannequin and put it in the window of the store.
2. To wear formal or fancy clothes: The students dressed up and went to the prom.
3. To dress someone in clothes suited for some particular occasion or situation: We dressed up the children for the cold weather. We'll need to dress ourselves up for wet weather. I can see you're dressed up to go hiking.
4. To wear clothes suited for some particular occasion or situation: People usually dress up in white to play tennis.
5. To make something appear more interesting or attractive than it actually is: The real estate agent dressed up the truth about the old house. The story of my trip was pretty boring, so I dressed it up with colorful exaggerations.
See also: dress, up

dressed to kill

mod. dressed in fancy or stylish clothes to impress someone. I’m never dressed to kill. I just try to be neat.
See also: dress, kill

dressed to the nines

and dressed to the teeth
mod. dressed very stylishly with nothing overlooked. (see also the whole nine yards for the nine.) She always goes out dressed to the nines. Clare is usually dressed to the teeth in order to impress people.
See also: dress, nine

dressed to the teeth

verb
See also: dress, teeth

dress ship

Nautical
To display the ensign, signal flags, and bunting on a ship.
See also: dress, ship

dressed to the nines

Wearing fashionably elegant clothing. History fails to offer a definitive explanation for this phrase. Among those that have been advanced are emulating the Nine Worthies of the ancient world, the British Army's 99th Foot Regiment's smart uniform, the nine buttons on a medieval woman's gloves, and the nine muses. Whatever the real derivation, we can agree that “nine” has a special significance in the English language, as in “cloud nine” and “the whole nine yards.”
See also: dress, nine
References in classic literature ?
John likes that dress, though," she added wistfully.
Dressed in a beautiful, fashionably-made black silk dress, with a fluffy white shawl over her shoulders, and her snowy hair surmounted by a dainty lace cap, she might have posed as a grandmother doll.
Janet sat and smiled, looking horribly uncomfortable in her hideous dress, and John Douglas sat without smiling.
Not one in a hundred will ever think anything about your dress, except that it is pretty.
Fanny let the dress lie in her lap a minute as she absently picked at the fringe, smiling to herself over the happy time when she wore it last and Sydney said she only needed cowslips in her lap to look like spring.
Now between ourselves, Fan, the price of that dress would give you all you 'll want for your spring fixings, that 's one consideration; then here 's another, which may have some weight with you," added Polly slyly.
There are times--just times--when she seems to belong more among the grown-ups than among us," I said, reluctantly, "especially when she puts on her bridesmaid dress.
To go to church in a faded print dress, with a shabby little old sun-hat and worn shoes
Are you really going to church to-morrow in that dress, Sis?
Up Broadway Chandler moved with the vespertine dress parade.
She was inexpensively clothed in a plain black dress that suggested a sort of uniform such as shop girls wear.
His companion, even in her cheap hat and dress, held herself with an air that added distinction to the natural beauty of her face and figure.
asked Stepan Arkadyevitch, hearing the rustle of a woman's dress at the door.
The marks from the smear on the door must be on some article of dress belonging to somebody in this house.
The discovery of the stained dress may lead the way to finding it.