from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A set of matching outer garments, especially one consisting of a coat with trousers or a skirt, often worn on formal occasions.
  • noun Slang A person, especially an executive, who wears one of these garments at work.
  • noun An outfit worn for a special activity.
  • noun A group of things used together; a set or collection.
  • noun Games Any of the four sets of 13 playing cards (clubs, diamonds, hearts, and spades) in a standard deck, the members of which bear the same marks.
  • noun Attendance required of a vassal at his feudal lord's court or manor.
  • noun Law A lawsuit.
  • noun The act or an instance of courting a woman; courtship.
  • intransitive verb To meet the requirements of; fit.
  • intransitive verb To make appropriate or suitable; adapt.
  • intransitive verb To be appropriate for; befit.
  • intransitive verb To please; satisfy.
  • intransitive verb To provide with clothing; dress.
  • intransitive verb To be suitable or acceptable.
  • intransitive verb To be in accord; agree or match.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A following; the act of pursuing, as game; pursuit.
  • noun Series; succession; regular order.
  • noun The act of suing; a seeking for something by solicitation or petition; an address of entreaty; petition; prayer.
  • noun Especially— A petition made to a person of exalted station, as a prince or prelate.
  • noun Solicitation for a woman's hand in marriage; courtship; proposal of marriage.
  • noun In law. A proceeding in a court of justice for the enforcement or protection of a right or claim, or for the redress of a wrong; prosecution of a right or claim before any tribunal: as, a civil suit; a criminal suit; a suit in chancery.
  • noun The witnesses or followers of the plaintiff in an action at law.
  • noun In feudal law, a following or attendance.
  • noun A company of attendants or followers; train; retinue. Now commonly suite.
  • noun A number of things composing a sequence or succession; a number of things of a like kind that follow in a series and are intended to be used together; a set or suite; specifically, one of the four sets or classes, known as spades, clubs, hearts, and diamonds, into which playing-cards are divided.
  • noun A number of different objects intended to be used together, especially when made of similar materials and corresponding in general character and purpose: thus, a number of different garments designed to he worn together form a suit of clothes; a number of sails of different sizes and fitting different spars form a suit of sails.
  • noun Synonyms Request, Petition, etc. See prayer.
  • To adapt; accommodate; fit; make suitable.
  • To be fitted or adapted to; be suitable or appropriate to; befit; answer the requirements of.
  • To be agreeable to; fall in with the views, wishes, or convenience of: as, a style of living to suit one's tastes.
  • To dress, as with a suit of clothes; clothe.
  • Synonyms To comport with, tally with, correspond to, match, meet.
  • To please, gratify, content.
  • To correspond; agree; accord: generally followed by with or to.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb To fit; to adapt; to make proper or suitable.
  • transitive verb To be fitted to; to accord with; to become; to befit.
  • transitive verb obsolete To dress; to clothe.
  • transitive verb To please; to make content.
  • intransitive verb To agree; to accord; to be fitted; to correspond; -- usually followed by with or to.
  • noun obsolete The act of following or pursuing, as game; pursuit.
  • noun The act of suing; the process by which one endeavors to gain an end or an object; an attempt to attain a certain result; pursuit; endeavor.
  • noun The act of wooing in love; the solicitation of a woman in marriage; courtship.
  • noun (Law) The attempt to gain an end by legal process; an action or process for the recovery of a right or claim; legal application to a court for justice; prosecution of right before any tribunal
  • noun That which follows as a retinue; a company of attendants or followers; the assembly of persons who attend upon a prince, magistrate, or other person of distinction; -- often written suite, and pronounced swēt.
  • noun Things that follow in a series or succession; the individual objects, collectively considered, which constitute a series, as of rooms, buildings, compositions, etc.; -- often written suite, and pronounced swēt.
  • noun A number of things used together, and generally necessary to be united in order to answer their purpose; a number of things ordinarily classed or used together; a set
  • noun (Playing Cards) One of the four sets of cards which constitute a pack; -- each set consisting of thirteen cards bearing a particular emblem, as hearts, spades, clubs, or diamonds; also, the members of each such suit held by a player in certain games, such as bridge.
  • noun obsolete Regular order; succession.


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English sute, from Anglo-Norman, from Vulgar Latin *sequita, act of following, feminine of *sequitus, past participle of *sequere, to follow, from Latin sequī; see suitor.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman siute, from Old French sieute (modern suite), originally a participle adjective from vulgar Latin *sequita (for Classical Latin secuta), from Latin sequi ("to follow"), because the component garments "follow each other", i.e. are worn together.


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  • "People are hassling me today for wearing a suit."


    "I'm just trying to get you all funding for the next three years, that's all."


    --My boss, two minutes ago.

    April 10, 2008

  • Wow. That'll keep you quiet, huh?

    April 11, 2008

  • One of those words with a complicated unfolding of senses. The origin is Latin *sequit-, past participle of seq- "follow", and the earliest meanings in English (late 1200s) are three senses of a "following":

    (i) attendance on a lord at court, i.e. following one's lord there;

    (ii) a lord's following, i.e. his company or retinue;

    (iii) the livery worn by a following or retinue.

    Then came the sense of "pursuit", hunting or seeking, and in the early 1400s this developed the sense of pursuing someone at law, a lawsuit. This then widened to any supplication or petition (early to mid 1400s). In the late 1500s it took on the particular sense of "courtship, wooing".

    Now I'm guessing it was the "livery" sense that around 1400 was extended to any set of matching things: first clothing; then playing-cards (early 1500s); and numerous obsolete uses. 'Suit of armour' is modern, no earlier than Sir Walter Scott.

    The variant form 'suite' took on various "set" meanings: rooms (early 1700s), music (mid 1700s), furniture (early 1800s), bathroom fittings (early 1900s).

    September 2, 2008

  • This is fascinating. Thanks, qroqqa! I love your etymological explorations.

    September 2, 2008