rai·​ment ˈrā-mənt How to pronounce raiment (audio)
chiefly literary : clothing, garments
… dressed in the raiment of Victorian gentlemen.Jerry Hopkins
The abbot of Landevenec, in his poor raiment, was not able to pass unnoticed among the people of Cornouaille, amply and richly dressed and coiffured with high headdresses.Charles Guyot
The scientists believe that robbers quickly stripped the dead queen of her raiment, dismembering her mummy as though it was some sort of pharaonic piñata.Ben Guarino
plural raiments, chiefly literary : an article of clothing : garment
… I tell thee, holy man, / Thy raiments and thy ebony cross affright me!Edgar Allen Poe
She … shed her bright colours and raiments and flower garlands …Jack London
For going to political rallies—or just heading out for a burger—T-shirts became the perfect two-in-one raiment.J. D. Reed
sometimes used figuratively
A rainforest is resplendent in a raiment of green—the ground thick with ferns and shrubs, and moss dripping from tree limbs.Eric Noland

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Get Fancy and Define Raiment

If you seek a fancy word to describe the clothes on your back, you have no shortage of colorful options. There's apparel and attire, certainly, as well as garments. Habiliments and vestments suggest clothes of a particular profession (as in "a clergyman's vestments"), while garb is effective for describing clothes of a particular style (as in "traditional Scottish garb"). If slang is more your game, try duds, rags, or threads. Raiment tends to appear mostly in classical contexts, though it pops up from time to time in contemporary English from authors looking to add a touch of formality. Raiment derives from Middle English, where it was short for arrayment, from the verb arrayen ("to array").

Examples of raiment in a Sentence

the prince exchanged his silken raiment for the pauper's humble homespun
Recent Examples on the Web What spirit are you, that walks this castle in such strange raiment? Jay Martel, The New Yorker, 19 Sep. 2022 Thousands of miles to the south, Inca rulers controlled as many as 37 million people, enriched by such abundance that the nobility clothed themselves in gilded raiments and decorated their homes with gold and silver ornaments. Tom Gjelten, Washington Post, 23 Aug. 2019 Two of the giants on display, topped with gold crowns and clad in flowing red and deep green raiment, are region-specific. Ryan P. Smith, Smithsonian, 3 July 2018 The cabin at 11720 W. Howard Ave. was long ago enveloped in 20th century raiment. Jane Ford-Stewart, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 31 Oct. 2017 The play is about history and war and catastrophe and love, domestic and otherwise, in its glittering raiments. Cynthia Zarin, The New Yorker, 12 Mar. 2017 The group, now with a wealthy and aristocratic membership of elite Catholics who parade in ornate raiment, has more recently specialized in aiding refugees and the poor in more than 100 countries. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 28 Jan. 2017 The Young Pope, a traditionalist who, like Benedict XVI, clearly thinks the rich history of the church is reflected in its ornate raiment, really does it up in Episode 5. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 13 Feb. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'raiment.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English rayment "clothing, adornment," aphetic variant of arayment, arrayment "preparation, equipment, furnishings, clothing," borrowed from Anglo-French arraiement "preparation, arrangement," from arraier, arreyer "to arrange, order, equip, attire, adorn" + -ment -ment — more at array entry 1

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of raiment was in the 15th century


Dictionary Entries Near raiment

Cite this Entry

“Raiment.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/raiment. Accessed 3 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


rai·​ment ˈrā-mənt How to pronounce raiment (audio)

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