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[noun kos-toom, -tyoom; verb ko-stoom, -styoom] /noun ˈkɒs tum, -tyum; verb kɒˈstum, -ˈstyum/
a style of dress, including accessories and hairdos, especially that peculiar to a nation, region, group, or historical period.
dress or garb characteristic of another period, place, person, etc., as worn on the stage or at balls.
fashion of dress appropriate to a particular occasion or season:
dancing costume; winter costume.
a set of garments, especially women's garments, selected for wear at a single time; outfit; ensemble.
verb (used with object), costumed, costuming.
to dress; furnish with a costume; provide appropriate dress for:
to costume a play.
of or characterized by the wearing of costumes:
a costume party.
meant for use with or appropriate to a specific costume:
costume accessories.
Origin of costume
1705-15; < French < Italian: usage, habit, dress; doublet of custom
Related forms
recostume, verb (used with object), recostumed, recostuming.
uncostumed, adjective
well-costumed, adjective
Synonym Study
1. See dress. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for costume
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • She had studied much over the possibilities of this girl's costume.

    Ester Ried Yet Speaking Isabella Alden
  • Mary made no effort to restrain the smile caused by the costume of Mr. Griggs.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • Her costume had about it an indubitable air, a finality of perfection in its kind.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • But he did not have the work acted; it was sung in costume with a background of appropriate scenery.

    Handel Edward J. Dent
  • Your costume may save us from starvation if we run short of cash.

British Dictionary definitions for costume


a complete style of dressing, including all the clothes, accessories, etc, worn at one time, as in a particular country or period; dress: national costume
(old-fashioned) a woman's suit
a set of clothes, esp unusual or period clothes, worn in a play by an actor or at a fancy dress ball: a jester's costume
short for swimming costume
verb (transitive)
to furnish the costumes for (a show, film, etc)
to dress (someone) in a costume
Word Origin
C18: from French, from Italian: dress, habit, custom
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for costume

1715, "style of dress," an art term, from French costume (17c.), from Italian costume "fashion, habit," from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) "custom, habit, usage." Essentially the same word as custom but arriving by a different etymology. From "customary clothes of the particular period in which the scene is laid," meaning broadened by 1818 to "any defined mode of dress." Costume jewelry is first attested 1933.


1823, from costume (n.). Related: Costumed; costuming.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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