- To dress-down is to scold or criticize someone, or to follow a policy that allows casual attire in a situation that usually requires more formal attire.
- When you yell at someone in front of all his co-workers for a mistake he made, this is an example of a situation where you dress-down that person.
- An example of dress-down is when you wear jeans to work on Friday.
dress-down definition by Webster's New World
Webster's New World College Dictionary Copyright © 2010 by Wiley Publishing, Inc., Cleveland, Ohio. Used by arrangement with John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
of or relating to a policy allowing casual attire in an activity, job, etc. that ordinarily requires more formal dress
dress-down - Phrases/Idioms
Scold, reprimand, as in The sergeant will dress down the entire unit. In the 15th century the verb dress alone was used in the sense of “punish,” down being added several centuries later. It also gave rise to the noun dressing down for punishment with blows or words. For example, The teacher gave the girls a severe dressing down.
Wear informal clothes, as in It's best to dress down for a party like a barbecue. [Mid-1900s] For the antonym, see dress up.