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“Bespoke” (adj.) in US
Posted: 19 June 2012 10:26 AM   [ Ignore ]
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I’ve been familiar with “bespoke”, meaning custom-made, for a fair number of years, but considered it a Britishism (or perhaps a Commonwealth-ism; I have no idea how widely it’s used in Australia, New Zealand, Canada, etc.).  Recently I ran across it in a Newsweek article about the chief of the NYPD (he looks “bulldog-tough even in bespoke suits") with no discernible reason for affecting a Britishism, so apparently the writer (and editors?) considered it a normal term.  In others’ experience, is it becoming more common in the US?  Has it been common a long time, and I just missed it?

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Posted: 19 June 2012 10:29 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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I’ve seen the phrase “bespoke suit” a fair number of times. I don’t recall hearing “bespoke” in other contexts.

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Posted: 19 June 2012 03:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I had encountered that term before, had no idea what it meant ... thought it might be a brand name. (blush)

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Posted: 19 June 2012 07:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Jay Gatsby used bespoke tailoring as a way to blend in with his neighboors in the Hamptons. Mirroring Fitzeralds’s own experience or not, the very bespokeness was a giveaway; everything was just a but too precise, labelling poor Gatsby as Not Quite.  Anyway, that’s what I took away from it. The term in American writing was understood at least that early.

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Posted: 20 June 2012 10:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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It’s clearly not uniquely British (as the prior posts show) but I think it is very rarely used in the US.  I’ve never heard of it, period, and would have been rather baffled by what “bespoke suit” meant unless it was clear from the context (and the context would have had to have been pretty darn clear on this point!).

Dictionary.com’s entry (based in the random house defintion) for this sense of “bespoke” refers to it as “British”.  It defines this sense of the word as relating to either clothes or a tailor, implying that the term is only applied to clothes. However, its sample sentences include examples where the referent is neither clothing nor a tailor. 

The Dictionary.com entry based on the World English Dictionary (published by Collins) does not mention whether this sense of the word is chiefly British or not, and it does not limit the “custom-made” sense to clothes (instead, it says this sense is especially used to refer to clothes, a website, a computer program, etc., which strikes me as a rather odd trio to tie off with “etc.").

The MW online dictionary doesn’t say anything about this sense of bespoke being chiefly British or not, either. 

So there is some (but not very strong) evidence for it being chiefly, if not uniquely, British.

I wonder (but this is just a WAG, and a particularly wild WAG at that) if bespoke in this sense is at least slightly more commonly used on the east coast than the west coast of the US.

[ Edited: 20 June 2012 10:28 AM by Svinyard118 ]
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Posted: 22 June 2012 10:03 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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So I was just listening in my half sleep to a podcast in which the reader said, “There he sat on his motorcycle in his bespoke suit.” I had NEVER heard of the use of this word before. And I thought, “Wow, isn’t this serendipitous. But then I thought, “not exactly serendipitous.” Maybe something like that. Shouldn’t there be another word for this?

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Posted: 22 June 2012 10:16 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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ROFL

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Posted: 22 June 2012 11:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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OED has “bespoke” as adj only from 1755: “bespoken” as adj, and the verb itself, are from earlier.  This is with the sense “to order beforehand”. 

The first instance of it being used as an adjective and in the sense we’re discussing isn’t in reference to clothing at all, but to a play (1755).  After that the next usage quoted is 1866:"The shoemaking trade..is divided into two departments—the bespoke and the ready-made or sale business.”

And thereafter mostly in relation to things worn, whether clothes or shoes, and all citations British.  Maybe it became a useful and distinguishing word in the clothing trade exactly at the time that “ready-mades” began to be generally available?

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Posted: 23 June 2012 02:30 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Shouldn’t there be another word for this?

Wake up, Oecolampadius! The word was invented on this forum. It’s diegogarcity

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Posted: 23 June 2012 05:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I think a joke just zoomed over your head…

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Posted: 23 June 2012 05:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Its flightpath now includes a place near me, too.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 06:23 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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lionello - 23 June 2012 02:30 AM

Shouldn’t there be another word for this?

Wake up, Oecolampadius! The word was invented on this forum. It’s diegogarcity

Sorry.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 07:07 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Was that “Sorry for not being clearer about the joke” or “Sorry, I forgot about diegogarcity”?  Because if it’s the latter, I join OP in his ROFL.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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Sorry for not being clearer about the joke and leading poor Lionello on. My bad.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 07:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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And poor Eliza who still doesn’t get it.

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Posted: 23 June 2012 08:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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ElizaD - 23 June 2012 07:39 AM

And poor Eliza who still doesn’t get it.

And, Yes, poor Eliza. It was a a wholly obscure attempt at an “in” joke. I note that “diegogarcity -wordorigins” now gets 3,840 googlits. Up from just 2 in 2006. Coined in 2003 by aldi, of course. “Go, litel worde . . . “

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