ac·​cou·​tre·​ment | \ ə-ˈkü-trə-mənt How to pronounce accoutrement (audio) , ə-ˈkü-tər-mənt How to pronounce accoutrement (audio) \
variants: or accouterment \ ə-​ˈkü-​tər-​mənt How to pronounce accoutrement (audio) \

Definition of accoutrement

1a : equipment, trappings specifically : a soldier's outfit usually not including clothes and weapons usually used in plural
b : an accessory item of clothing or equipment usually used in plural Shops offering the physical accoutrements of polite manners—lace, gloves, linen underclothing, snuff, and gentleman's powdered wigs …— Arthur Herman
2 : an identifying and often superficial characteristic or device usually used in plural … some of the other accouterments of power that define our diplomacy.— Elizabeth Drew
3 archaic : the act of accoutring

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Tracing Accoutrement Back to Old French

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."

Examples of accoutrement in a Sentence

this vacuum cleaner has all of the accoutrements for cleaning furniture as well as floors has all the accoutrements that the home pastry chef could ever want
Recent Examples on the Web There was, and never would be, any background or accoutrement or narrative in a Chuck Close painting — just the fact of the face. Jerry Saltz, Vulture, 21 Aug. 2021 The easily transportable elements were the accoutrement that facilitated British soldiers and colonists’ settlement in places that were not their own. Nafeesah Allen, House Beautiful, 15 June 2021 Zhuzh up your balcony and patios with chic outdoor accoutrement like tall hurricane lanterns, raffia coolers, wicker benches. Alexis Bennett, Vogue, 13 Mar. 2021 In the days after the show premiered, the Danish internet overflowed with memes flaunting female versions of Dillermand, some sporting the appropriately gigantic genital accoutrement, or a tangle of unspooling breasts. Katherine J. Wu, The Atlantic, 26 Feb. 2021 Now that the face mask has become the essential accoutrement of our lives, the COVID pandemic has laid bare our fundamental need to see whole faces. David J. Lewkowicz, Scientific American, 11 Feb. 2021 Tina Knowles-Lawson, the singer's mother, also uploaded a selfie of herself donning the new accoutrement. Chelsey Sanchez, Harper's BAZAAR, 30 Dec. 2020 Uncommon Catering & Eatery’s got New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day charcuterie and accoutrement boards available for pre-order, all sizes. Amy Drew Thompson,, 23 Dec. 2020 There are, however, some decent deals on various Xbox accoutrement kicking around today. Lee Neikirk, USA TODAY, 30 Nov. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'accoutrement.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of accoutrement

circa 1550, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for accoutrement

borrowed from Middle French accoutrement, accoustrement, from accoutrer "to accoutre" + -ment -ment

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Time Traveler for accoutrement

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The first known use of accoutrement was circa 1550

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Last Updated

1 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Accoutrement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Oct. 2021.

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More Definitions for accoutrement



English Language Learners Definition of accoutrement

: a piece of clothing or equipment that is used in a particular place or for a particular activity

More from Merriam-Webster on accoutrement

Nglish: Translation of accoutrement for Spanish Speakers


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