Etymology: Middle English, from Anglo-French drescer, dresser to direct, put right, Vulgar Latin *directiare, from Latin directus direct, past participle of dirigere to direct, from dis- + regere to lead straight — more at right
Date: 14th century
a. to make or set straight
b. to arrange (as troops) in a straight line and at proper intervals
2. to prepare for use or service; specifically to prepare for cooking or for the table <dress a salad> 3. to add decorative details or accessories to ; embellish 4. a. to put clothes on <dress a child> b. to provide with clothing <feed and dress a growing family> 5. archaic dress down 6. a. to apply dressings or medicaments to <dress a wound> b. (1) to arrange (as the hair) by combing, brushing, or curling (2) to groom and curry (an animal) c. to kill and prepare for market or for consumption — often used with out d. cultivate, tend; especially to apply manure or fertilizer to <dress a field> e. to put through a finishing process; especially to trim and smooth the surface of (as lumber or stone) intransitive verb 1. a. to put on clothing b. to put on or wear formal, elaborate, or fancy clothes <dress for dinner> 2. of a food animal to weigh after being dressed — often used with out 3. to align oneself with the next soldier in a line to make the line straight II. noun Date: 1606 1. apparel, clothing 2. an outer garment (as for a woman or girl) usually consisting of a one-piece bodice and skirt 3. covering, adornment, or appearance appropriate or peculiar to a particular time 4. a particular form of presentation ; guise III. adjective Date: 1767 1. suitable for a formal occasion <dress clothes> <dress shoes> 2. requiring or permitting formal dress <a dress affair> 3. relating to or used for a dress <dress material>
New Collegiate Dictionary. 2001.