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 accouterment (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 pluralShops 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 Remember when advertising on outfield walls was a tacky accoutrement better suited for minor league teams? Gabe Lacques, USA TODAY, "From expanded playoffs to sponsored jerseys: Four ways MLB's shortened season may permanently alter the game," 18 June 2020 Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled, Strawberry Iced Kreme Filled, Cake Batter Filled, and Yellow Iced Original Glazed—with fitting numeral accoutrements for the occasion. Southern Living, "Krispy Kreme Debuts Limited-Edition "Graduate Dozen" and High School and College Grads Can Get Them for Free," 12 May 2020 Multimillion-dollar contracts for coaches, frivolous accoutrements in locker rooms, sprawling weight training facilities and ever-expanding staffs all offer critics soft targets. Zach Osterman, Indianapolis Star, "No college football this year? IU, other universities would face nightmare financial scenario," 4 Apr. 2020 Such competition leads either to dangerous fights, or to the growing of showy-offy but physiologically expensive and thus life-limiting accoutrements, or both. The Economist, "Evolution Which is really the weaker sex?," 7 Mar. 2020 Surrounding the bodies was a bevy of artistic accoutrement that dated to around the second century B.C. Katherine J. Wu, Smithsonian Magazine, "2,000-Year-Old Leopard Face Painting Reconstructed From Egyptian Sarcophagus," 3 Mar. 2020 Other campaigns buzz about the Bloomberg team’s lavish accoutrements, from $6,000 per month for low-level organizers to free iPhones and furnished apartments in Manhattan for staff at New York HQ. Time, "Mike Bloomberg Wants to Fix America. But Can He Fix the Democrats?," 2 Mar. 2020 Instead, there were words designed to capture an ethnic dialect in what presumably was deemed to be an amusing desk accoutrement. Jeffrey L. Seglin,, "If you meet racism at the store, do you call it out?," 14 Oct. 2019 But now, as streaming continues to take over and normal CD sales decline, box sets and collectors’ editions account for a growing share of the revenue from physical music, and labels are tapping into the creative potential of tactile accoutrements. Robert Levine, Billboard, "The Making of the Two Wildest Grammy-Nominated Box Sets," 28 Jan. 2019

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

Time Traveler

The first known use of accoutrement was circa 1550

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Cite this Entry

“Accoutrement.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 31 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for accoutrement


How to pronounce accoutrement (audio) How to pronounce accoutrement (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for accoutrement

Nglish: Translation of accoutrement for Spanish Speakers

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