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From Middle English clothen, from Old English clāþian (to clothe), from Proto-Germanic *klaiþōną (to clothe), from Proto-Indo-European *gley- (to adhere to, stick). Cognate with Dutch kleden, German kleiden, Swedish kläda, after apocope klä. See also cloth, clad.



clothe (third-person singular simple present clothes, present participle clothing, simple past and past participle clad or clothed)

  1. (transitive) To adorn or cover with clothing; to dress; to supply clothes or clothing.
    to feed and clothe a family; to clothe oneself extravagantly
    • (Can we date this quote?) William Shakespeare
      Go with me, to clothe you as becomes you.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Bible, Proverbs xxiii. 21
      Drowsiness shall clothe a man with rags.
    • (Can we date this quote?) Goldsmith
      The naked every day he clad, / When he put on his clothes.
  2. (figuratively) To cover or invest, as if with a garment.
    to clothe somebody with authority or power
    • (Can we date this quote?) Watts
      language in which they can clothe their thoughts
    • (Can we date this quote?) J. Dyer
      His sides are clothed with waving wood.
    • (Can we date this quote?) John Milton
      words clothed in reason's garb

Derived terms[edit]


Middle English[edit]

Etymology 1[edit]

From Old English clāþ.



  1. Alternative form of cloth

Etymology 2[edit]

From Old English clāþian.



  1. Alternative form of clothen