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dress (v.)

c. 1300, "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 "make straight," from Latin directus "direct, straight," past participle of dirigere "set straight," from dis- "apart" (see dis-) + regere "to direct, to guide, keep straight" (from PIE root *reg- "move in a straight line").

Sense of "decorate, adorn" is from late 14c., as is that of "put on clothing." The older sense survives in military dress ranks "align columns of troops." Of males, in reference to the position of the sex organ in trousers, by 1961.

Dress up "attire elaborately, put on one's best clothing" is from 1670s; dress down "wear clothes less formal than expected" is by 1960. Transitive use of dress (someone) down, "scold, reprimand," is by 1876, earlier simply dress (1769), in which the sense is ironical. In Middle English, dress up meant "get up" and dress down meant "to kneel." Related: Dressed; dressing.

dress (n.)

c. 1600, "a garment or assemblage of garments," originally any clothing, especially that appropriate to rank or to some ceremony; the specific sense of "woman's garment consisting of a skirt and waist" is recorded by 1630s, with overtones of "made not merely to clothe but to adorn." Dress rehearsal first recorded 1828.

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Definitions of dress from WordNet
1
dress (v.)
put on clothes;
Can the child dress by herself?
we had to dress quickly
dress the patient
Synonyms: get dressed
dress (v.)
provide with clothes or put clothes on;
Parents must feed and dress their child
Synonyms: clothe / enclothe / garb / raiment / tog / garment / habilitate / fit out / apparel
dress (v.)
put a finish on;
dress the surface smooth
dress (v.)
dress in a certain manner;
he dressed up in a suit and tie
Synonyms: dress up
dress (v.)
dress or groom with elaborate care;
She likes to dress when going to the opera
Synonyms: preen / primp / plume
dress (v.)
kill and prepare for market or consumption;
dress a turkey
Synonyms: dress out
dress (v.)
arrange in ranks;
dress troops
Synonyms: line up
dress (v.)
decorate (food), as with parsley or other ornamental foods;
Synonyms: trim / garnish
dress (v.)
provide with decoration;
dress the windows
Synonyms: decorate
dress (v.)
put a dressing on;
dress the salads
dress (v.)
cultivate, tend, and cut back the growth of;
dress the plants in the garden
Synonyms: snip / clip / crop / trim / lop / prune / cut back
dress (v.)
cut down rough-hewn (lumber) to standard thickness and width;
dress (v.)
convert into leather;
dress the tanned skins
dress (v.)
apply a bandage or medication to;
dress the victim's wounds
dress (v.)
give a neat appearance to;
dress the horses
Synonyms: groom / curry
dress (v.)
arrange attractively;
dress my hair for the wedding
Synonyms: arrange / set / do / coif / coiffe / coiffure
2
dress (n.)
a one-piece garment for a woman; has skirt and bodice;
Synonyms: frock
dress (n.)
clothing of a distinctive style or for a particular occasion;
battle dress
Synonyms: attire / garb
dress (n.)
clothing in general;
fastidious about his dress
Synonyms: apparel / wearing apparel / clothes
3
dress (adj.)
suitable for formal occasions;
dress shoes
a full-dress uniform
Synonyms: full-dress
dress (adj.)
(of an occasion) requiring formal clothes;
a full-dress ceremony
a dress dinner
Synonyms: full-dress
From wordnet.princeton.edu