The Meaning of Strong Suit: What It Is and How To Use It

Have you ever heard someone refer to something as their strong suit? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the phrase strong suit, including its meaning, example sentences, synonyms, origin, and more!

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What does the phrase strong suit mean?

According to Merriam-Webster English Dictionary, Dictionary, and other American English dictionary apps, the term strong suit is an idiom that refers to something that one excels in, or someone’s strength. Alternately, this phrase can be called a “strong point.” It refers to someone’s most highly developed skill, characteristic, or talent. People often use this to refer to their greatest skill, or to compare a weaker skill to this strong one. For example, one might say, “I’m not great at math, my strong suit lies more in the humanities.” One could also say, “Learning new languages isn’t really my strong suit.” Here, they use the word strong suit to mean something they are very good at or talented in.

In the card game bridge, a strong suit can also be used to refer to a certain hand in which the player is dealt a long suit that contains high cards. This is a very good hand to have in the game of bridge. 

What is the etymology of the phrase strong suit?

According to JC Steel Author, the phrase strong suit derives from card games, in which the four playing card suits are diamonds, spades, hearts, and aces. Many people believe the phrase strong suit originated from the game bridge. According to Dictionary, in the game bridge, a “strong suit” is a long suit that contains high cards. The phrase was first recorded some time in the early to mid 1860s. Etymonline also states that this phrase was first recorded in 1865 and relates to card games.

According to ACBL, bridge is a card game that is played with four people and a standard deck of 52 cards. Each deal has three different parts. The first is the auction, where four players “bid” in a clockwise motion. They describe their hands, and the side that wins the bid tries to trick others into fulfilling their contract. The game is a bit complicated, but the aim of the game is for each north-south or east-west partnership between the four players to win as many tricks as possible.

How can the phrase strong suit be sued in a sentence?

The phrase strong suit can be used in a variety of different circumstances to refer to things that someone is good at. This phrase is considered polite, so it is perfectly acceptable to use in professional and formal settings. In this first example, Michael will use the phrase strong suit in a job interview.

Interviewer: So why do you think you are a good fit for this position?

Michael: I know that this role involves a lot of interaction with clients, and communication is really my strong suit. I have been told that I’m always very communicative and easy to talk to, and I believe that I could make the clients feel comfortable with me and build really strong, long lasting relationships.

Interviewer: Great. We are definitely looking for someone who can interact well with our clients and to bring in new clients of their own. Is this something you feel comfortable with?

Michael: Yes. At my last position, I was bringing in upwards of twenty-five new clients a month, and believe I can exceed that here because the company itself is more well-known.

Here, Michael uses the phrase strong suit to refer to his communication skills that are a valuable asset in the job he is interviewing for. In this next example, Michael and his friend are at a bar.

Friend: I’ve seen you looking at that girl all night. You should go talk to her.

Michael: I don’t know. She probably has a boyfriend and I don’t want to bother her or make it weird. Talking to women in bars isn’t really my strong suit.

Friend: You won’t make it weird. I promise. If she does turn you down, our night goes on as normal!

What are synonyms and antonyms to the phrase strong suit?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the phrase strong suit. These are called synonyms. A synonym is a word or phrase that means the same thing as another word or phrase. Someone could choose to use a synonym to avoid repeating themselves or to expand their vocabulary. The below list of synonyms for the phrase strong suit is provided by Thesaurus

  • eminency
  • aptitude
  • long suit
  • strength
  • medium
  • talent
  • competence
  • speciality
  • strong point
  • faculty
  • forte
  • efficiency
  • ability
  • thing
  • strength
  • metier
  • oyster
  • effectiveness
  • ableness
  • gift

What if someone wanted to describe something that is the opposite of their strong suit? In this case, they would use an antonym, which is a word or phrase that is the opposite of another word or phrase. This below list of antonyms is also provided by Thesaurus

  • fragility
  • faintness
  • debility
  • languor
  • predilection
  • blemish
  • decrepitude
  • invalidity
  • vice
  • prostration
  • sore point
  • frailty
  • powerlessness
  • taste
  • failing
  • deficiency
  • flaw
  • inclination
  • weakness
  • inconstancy
  • impotence
  • impairment
  • liking
  • penchant
  • shortcoming
  • proneness
  • delicacy
  • instability
  • infirmity
  • passion
  • indecision
  • chink in armor
  • feebleness
  • soft spot
  • proclivity
  • irresolution
  • gap
  • vulnerability
  • defect
  • imperfection
  • vitiation
  • enervation
  • fondness
  • Achilles heel
  • appetite
  • lapse
  • lack
  • senility
  • fault

Overall, the phrase strong suit is used to refer to a person’s greatest strength, talent, or skill. People often use this to talk about things that they are good at, or to compare things that they may be lacking in. A strong suit can also be used to refer to a certain hand one is dealt in the game bridge. 

Sources:

  1. http://jcsteelauthor.com/books/etymology-excavation-strong-suit/#:~:text=My%20favourite%20sources%20are%20unusually,from%20the%20game%20of%20bridge.
  2. https://www.dictionary.com/browse/strong-suit
  3. https://www.etymonline.com/word/strong
  4. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/weakness
  5. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/strong%20suit
  6. https://www.acbl.org/learn_page/how-to-play-bridge/
  7. https://www.thesaurus.com/browse/strong%20suit