Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Accoutrement

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is accoutrement. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

An accoutrement is a piece of clothing or equipment that is used in a particular place or for a particular activity. In military contexts, accoutrement refers specifically to a soldier’s outfit. The word can also refer to an identifying and often superficial characteristic or device. Accoutrement in any of its uses is often pluralized.

// The little closet was cluttered with belts and scarves and other accoutrements of use to a fashion-conscious teenager.


“An accoutrement that has the very important job of keeping a man’s pants up, belts also have the power to complete a look.” — Marie Lodi, The Hollywood Reporter, 20 June 2022

Did You Know?

Accoutrement and its rarer relative accoutre, a verb meaning “to provide with equipment or furnishings” or “to outfit,” have been appearing in English texts since the 16th century. Today both words have variant spellings—accouterment and accouter. The pair’s French ancestor, accoutrer, descends from an Old French word meaning “seam” and ultimately traces to the Latin word consuere, meaning “to sew together.” Some etymological stitching is visible in another English word: couture, a word referring to the business of making fashionable clothes, as well as to the clothes themselves, is also a descendant of consuere.

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