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Posted by R. Berg on May 21, 2004

In Reply to: Nah posted by Rube on May 21, 2004

: : : : : : What's going on with the phrase suit yourself? I recently said it to a co-worker of mine, and she was apparently feeling a bit saucy because she decided to throw it back in my face, and thus asked me to really ponder the meaning of this undefinable expression.

: : : : : : Well, I came up with it literally meaning: Hey buddy- grow up, and get dressed your damn self! Or, suit up, without support from another.

: : : : : : Soooo, the question herein lies- how does this translate into the common usage of this phrase? It being roughly- you're missing out!

: : : : : : Any thoughts?

: : : : : Suit is a word with many meanings. In the UK at least this phrase is taken to mean 'Please yourself', i.e. choose the thing that suits (pleases) you.

: : :
: : : : Well- You are certainly correct in that being one of the many uses today- but I was looking for something perhaps a bit more historical- The word suit, I'm sure, derives originally from something to do with clothing- and then spawned off into many different meanings.

: : : : "The verb meaning 'be agreeable or convenient' is 1578, probably from the notion of 'provide with a set of new clothes.'" -from

: : : : Not sure if this is too late a time period for this word...

: : : The first recorded uses for the meanings "provide with clothes" and "be agreeable" are almost at the same time: 1577 and 1578 (OED, 1st ed.). When suits typically came from tailors and were custom fitted, they were made "to suit," after taking measurements.

: : the expression actually means as stated above "please yourself" "go about it yourself because you aren't satisfied with the help/contribution/solution of other people" it does not mean "grow up" but as for the origin perhaps there is a link with clothing / to make a suit for yourself is impossible - the process involves measuring and fitting and you can't take your own body measurements accurately - so the " suit yourself" could have an underlying "please yourself - but you need me/others/people to get by and solve the problem"

: In this usage, the idea of clothing has nothing to do with suit.

: I contend that the only logical origin would have the fitting clothes meaning derive from please one's self. It doesn't work if it meant clothing first.

: "Suit yourself" indicates disagreement with the course chosen by the person being spoken to. It is very little different from "Do what you want" or indeed "please yourself". The speaker is not necessarily right.

"Suit yourself" doesn't always have a context of argument or conflict, any more than "Do what you want" does. It can be said neutrally. One has to listen for the tone.