mid-14c., redressen, "to correct, reform" (a person; a sense now obsolete); late 14c., "restore, put right" (a wrong, error, offense); "repair; relieve; improve; amend," from Old French redrecier, redresier, "reform, restore, rebuild" (Modern French redresser), from re- "again" (see re-) + drecier "to straighten, arrange" (see dress (v.)). Formerly used in many more senses than currently. Related: Redressed; redressing.
late 14c., redresse, "reparation, compensation for injustice, injury, loss, etc., adjustment," late 14c., from Anglo-French redresce, Old French redrece, redresse, fromredrecier, redresier (see redress (v.)).
Entries linking to redress
word-forming element meaning "back, back from, back to the original place;" also "again, anew, once more," also conveying the notion of "undoing" or "backward," etc. (see sense evolution below), c. 1200, from Old French re- and directly from Latin re- an inseparable prefix meaning "again; back; anew, against."
Watkins (2000) describes this as a "Latin combining form conceivably from Indo-European *wret-, metathetical variant of *wert- "to turn." De Vaan says the "only acceptable etymology" for it is a 2004 explanation which reconstructs a root in PIE *ure "back."
In earliest Latin the prefix became red- before vowels and h-, a form preserved in redact, redeem, redolent, redundant, redintegrate, and, in disguise, render (v.). In some English words from French and Italian re- appears as ra- and the following consonant is often doubled (see rally (v.1)).
The many meanings in the notion of "back" give re- its broad sense-range: "a turning back; opposition; restoration to a former state; "transition to an opposite state." From the extended senses in "again," re- becomes "repetition of an action," and in this sense it is extremely common as a formative element in English, applicable to any verb. OED writes that it is "impossible to attempt a complete record of all the forms resulting from its use," and adds that "The number of these is practically infinite ...."
Often merely intensive, and in many of the older borrowings from French and Latin the precise sense of re- is forgotten, lost in secondary senses, or weakened beyond recognition, so that it has no apparent semantic content (receive, recommend, recover, reduce, recreate, refer, religion, remain, request, require). There seem to have been more such words in Middle English than after, e.g. recomfort (v.) "to comfort, console; encourage;" recourse (n.) "a process, way, course." Recover in Middle English also could mean "obtain, win" (happiness, a kingdom, etc.) with no notion of getting something back, also "gain the upper hand, overcome; arrive at;" also consider the legal sense of recovery as "obtain (property) by judgment or legal proceedings."
And, due to sound changes and accent shifts, re- sometimes entirely loses its identity as a prefix (rebel, relic, remnant, restive, rest (n.2) "remainder," rally (v.1) "bring together"). In a few words it is reduced to r-, as in ransom (a doublet of redemption), rampart, etc.
Prefixed to a word beginning with e, re- is separated by a hyphen, as re-establish, re-estate, re-edify, etc. ; or else the second e has a dieresis over it: as, reëstablish, reëmbark, etc. The hyphen is also sometimes used to bring out emphatically the sense of repetition or iteration : as, sung and re-sung. The dieresis is not used over other vowels than e when re is prefixed : thus, reinforce, reunite, reabolish. [Century Dictionary, 1895]
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.
updated on September 23, 2021