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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 termsEdit


Middle EnglishEdit

Etymology 1Edit

From Old English clāþ.



  1. Alternative form of cloth

Etymology 2Edit

From Old English clāþian.



  1. Alternative form of clothen