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

This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word suit, including its definition, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word suit mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, the word suit has a plethora of different meanings. First, this word can be used as a noun. It can either refer to some set of matching outer garments in the same fabric – usually consisting of trousers, a jacket, and a vest, but sometimes having a skirt in place of the trousers – or a costume or uniform to be worn for a special purpose. It can also be used to refer to some action or process in court of law, such as a lawsuit. If you sue someone, this legal process is considered a suit. Additionally, the word suit can mean the cards that bear the same symbol in a pack or deck of cards, such as diamonds, spades, hearts, or clubs, a slang term for a business executive, or a set of things forming a unit like a suit of armor. The word suit can also be used as a verb to mean to meet the needs or desires of or to be proper for. 

What is the origin of the word suit?

According to Etymonline, the word suit (pronunciation: ​suːt) has been used as a noun since the 1300s. Alternative Middle English spellings include sute, suete, suite, and seute. This was used to mean some band of followers or company. It was also used to mean a set of matching garments that was worn by said entourage. This further came to mean some kind or match, as we now see in card games. This figurative use also came to mean some pursuit or chase particularly for the affections of a woman in hope of marriage, and in law an obligation of a person to attend court. 

This word comes from the Anglo-French suit or siwete, from the Old French suite or sieute meaning a pursuit or hunt. These were used in the 12th century, and are the root of the Modern French suite. These come from the Vulgar Latin sequita, the feminine of sequitus or sequere, from the Latin secutus, the past participle of sequi meaning to attend or follow. This is also where we get the related words non sequitur and sequester. 

The word suit has been used to mean lawsuit since the mid-14th century. It has meant the pursuit of a romantic partner since the 15th century, and a set of clothes to be worn together since the late 14th century. It has been used as a derisive term for a businessman since 1979. Suit has been used with reference to playing cards since the 1520s, and the term follow suit has been around since the 1670s.

The word suit has been used as a verb meaning to fit or fall in with the views of since the 1570s. It meant to seek out starting in the mid-15th century, to mean to be becoming in the mid-14th century, and to mean to make agreeable since the 1590s. The phrase suit up has existed since 1945, and the expression suit yourself has been attested since 1851. Many different related words make use of the word suit, including suited, suiting, catsuit, lawsuit, pantsuit, spacesuit, suitable, suitcase, suite, swimsuit, and unsuited.

How can the word suit be used in a sentence?

The word suit can be used in many different ways. Below are a few examples of ways you can use suit in a sentence.

She put on her running suit for her special activity that day – she was running her first marathon.

The set of men all wore blue suits to the fraternity event.

At every swim meet, Heather wears her lucky special suit that she loves.

His wedding suit came as a set consisting of a pair of pants, a vest, and a jacket.

In her opinion, the kind of behavior the toddler was displaying was not suitable for the restaurant.

She plates a royal flush in the suit of hearts, winning the poker tournament.

He filed a suit against the landlord who would not fix the mold, but he filed a rival suit for withholding rent. No one knew who would win the civil proceeding and who would receive punishment.

What are synonyms for the word suit?

The word suit has many different sets of synonyms since it has numerous different meanings. These sets of synonyms are provided by Thesaurus

noun, matching clothing

  • wardrobe
  •  uniform
  •  livery
  •  tuxedo
  •  habit
  •  gray flannel
  •  outfit
  •  getup
  •  costume
  •  clothing
  •  threads
  •  dress
  •  ensemble

noun, legal action

  •  case
  •  proceeding
  •  cause
  •  litigation
  •  lawsuit
  •  prosecution
  •  trial

noun, appeal or request

  • application
  •  solicitation
  •  address
  •  petition
  •  imploration
  •  supplication
  •  wooing
  •  asking
  •  prayer
  •  requesting
  •  invocation
  •  courtship
  •  court
  •  soliciting
  •  attention
  •  imprecation
  •  plea
  •  entreaty

verb, to be acceptable or appropriate

  • be seemly
  •  conform
  •  harmonize
  •  accord
  •  answer a need
  •  please
  •  cut the mustard
  •  benefit
  •  fulfill
  •  enhance
  •  do
  •  flatter
  •  go
  •  pass muster
  •  go with
  •  become
  •  correspond
  •  befit
  •  agree
  •  go together
  •  satisfy
  •  beseem
  •  suffice
  •  check
  •  fill the bill
  •  tally
  •  serve
  •  fit
  •  fit in
  •  make the grade
  •  get by
  •  answer
  •  match
  •  check out
  •  gratify
  •  square
  •  be proper for

Overall, the word suit means different things as both a noun and verb. It can refer to a set of garments – usually outerwear – in a similar material, a set of items, parts of personal armour, the man’s courting of a woman, a lawsuit, and more. As a verb, it means to fit or to look good on. There are many types of specialty suits, from a lounge suit, to a boiler suit, to protective suits or a suit of weather. This comprehensive term is used in many different ways in the English language, and comes from the Latin sequi.

Sources:

  1. suit | Origin and meaning of suit | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  2. Suit | Definition of Suit | Merriam-Webster 
  3. SUIT Synonyms: 135 Synonyms & Antonyms for SUIT | Thesaurus