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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. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for costume
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He was dressed in the costume of Georgia, a long knife hung over his thigh, and a gun rested against the wall.

  • He was far older than I had supposed, and he had less bravery of costume and gesture.

  • His fat and sunburnt hands, with their short nails, contrasted strangely with his costume.

    Abb Aubain and Mosaics Prosper Mrime
  • His costume, moreover, was extraordinary to the point of the fantastic.

  • My face was not of the right colour, and my costume belonged to a sex that never milked them.

    The Iron Furnace John H. Aughey
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.


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

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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