Monday, November 10, 2003

Etymology Today from M-W: accoutrement\uh-KOO-ter-munt\

1 : an accessory item of clothing or equipment — usually used in the plural
2 : an identifying characteristic

"Accoutrement" and its 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." Their French ancestor, "accoutrer," descends from an Old French word meaning "seam" and ultimately traces to the Latin word "consuere," meaning "to sew together." You probably won't be too surprised to learn that "consuere" is also an ancestor of "couture," meaning "the business of designing fashionable custom-made women's clothing."
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