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dress ( oneself ) up
to dress in fancy dress. They dressed themselves up in their finest. Please dress up for the dance.
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.
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.
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.
dress something upalso 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)
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]
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.