"to undress (oneself);" also, transitive, "divest of a robe or garments, denude;" 1580s; see dis- + robe. Perhaps from or based on Old French desrober (Modern French dérober). Related: Disrobed; disrobing.
word-forming element of Latin origin meaning 1. "lack of, not" (as in dishonest); 2. "opposite of, do the opposite of" (as in disallow); 3. "apart, away" (as in discard), from Old French des- or directly from Latin dis- "apart, asunder, in a different direction, between," figuratively "not, un-," also "exceedingly, utterly." Assimilated as dif- before -f- and to di- before most voiced consonants.
The Latin prefix is from PIE *dis- "apart, asunder" (source also of Old English te-, Old Saxon ti-, Old High German ze-, German zer-). The PIE root is a secondary form of *dwis- and thus is related to Latin bis "twice" (originally *dvis) and to duo, on notion of "two ways, in twain" (hence "apart, asunder").
In classical Latin, dis- paralleled de- and had much the same meaning, but in Late Latin dis- came to be the favored form and this passed into Old French as des-, the form used for compound words formed in Old French, where it increasingly had a privative sense ("not"). In English, many of these words eventually were altered back to dis-, while in French many have been altered back to de-. The usual confusion prevails.
As a living prefix in English, it reverses or negatives what it is affixed to. Sometimes, as in Italian, it is reduced to s- (as in spend, splay, sport, sdain for disdain, and the surnames Spencer and Spence).
"long, loose outer garment reaching almost to the floor, worn by men or women over other dress," late 13c., from Old French robe "long, loose outer garment" (12c.), from a Germanic source (compare Old High German rouba "vestments"), from West Germanic *raubo "booty" (cognate with Old High German roub "robbery, breakage"), which also yielded rob (v.).
Presumably the notion is of fine garments taken from an enemy as spoil, and the Old French word had a secondary sense of "plunder, booty," while Germanic cognates had both senses; as in Old English reaf "plunder, booty, spoil; garment, armor, vestment."
The meaning "dressing gown" is from 1854; such extended senses often appear first in French, e.g. robe de chambre "dressing gown," robe de nuit "nightgown." From c. 1300 in reference to official vestments and thus indicative of position or membership in a religious order, guild, etc.; metonymic sense of The Robe for "the legal profession" is attested from 1640s.