AskDefine | Define gown

Dictionary Definition



1 long, usually formal, woman's dress
2 protective garment worn by surgeons during operations [syn: surgical gown, scrubs]
3 outerwear consisting of a long flowing garment used for official or ceremonial occasions [syn: robe] v : dress in a gown

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A loose, flowing upper garment.
  2. The ordinary outer dress of a woman; as, a calico or silk gown.
  3. The official robe of certain professional men and scholars, as university students and officers, barristers, judges, etc.; hence, the dress of peace; the dress of civil officers, in distinction from military.
  4. The university community.
    In the perennial town versus gown battles, townies win some violent battles, but the collegians are winning the war.
  5. A loose wrapper worn by gentlemen within doors; a dressing gown.
  6. Any sort of dress or garb.
  7. The robe worn by a surgeon.


woman's dress
official robe
  • French: toge (general term, especially Roman Antiquity), robe (magistrates & court lawyers),
  • Italian: toga
  • Portuguese: beca

Extensive Definition

A gown (medieval Latin gunna) is a (usually) loose outer garment from knee- to full-length worn by men and women in Europe from the early Middle Ages to the seventeenth century (and continuing today in certain professions); later, gown was applied to any woman's garment consisting of a bodice and attached skirt.
A long, loosely-fitted gown called a Banyan was worn by men in the eighteenth century as an informal coat.
The gowns worn today by academics, judges, and some clergy derive directly from the everyday garments worn by their medieval predecessors, formalized into a uniform in the course of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Women's dress

In women's fashion, gown was used in English for any one-piece garment, but more often through the eighteenth century for an overgarment worn with a petticoat (called in French a robe); compare the short gowns or bedgowns of the latter eighteenth century.
Before the Victorian period, the word "dress" usually referred to a general overall mode of attire for either men or women (such as in the phrases "Evening Dress", "Morning Dress", "Travelling Dress", "Full Dress" etc.), rather than to any specific garment — and the most-used English word for a woman's skirted garment was "gown" (as in Jane Austen's novels).
By the early twentieth century, both gown and frock were essentially synonymous with dress, although gown was more often used for a formal or heavy garment and frock for a light-weight or informal one.
Only in the last few decades has gown lost its general meaning of a woman's garment in the US in favor of dress. Today the usage is chiefly British except in specialized, formal cases such as evening gown, ball gown, coronation gown, princess gown, and wedding gown.

See also

Types of gowns


Arnold, Janet: Patterns of Fashion 2: Englishwomen's Dresses and Their Construction C.1860-1940, Wace 1966, Macmillan 1972. Revised metric edition, Drama Books 1977. ISBN 0-89676-027-8
Ashelford, Jane: The Art of Dress: Clothing and Society 1500-1914, Abrams, 1996. ISBN 0-8109-6317-5
Black, J. Anderson and Madge Garland: A History of Fashion, Morrow, 1975. ISBN 0-688-02893-4
gown in Thai: เสื้อครุย

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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