bespoke

[ bih-spohk ]
/ bɪˈspoʊk /

verb

a simple past tense and past participle of bespeak.

adjective

British.
  1. (of clothes) made to individual order; custom-made: a bespoke jacket.
  2. making or selling such clothes: a bespoke tailor.
Older Use. engaged to be married; spoken for.

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Origin of bespoke

1745–55 for def. 2
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020

VOCAB BUILDER

What does bespoke mean?

Bespoke means custom-made—made based on the specifications of the person ordering it, as in a bespoke suit. It can also be used to describe a person or company that makes such things, as in bespoke tailor.

Bespoke is an adjective, but it’s also the past tense of the verb bespeak, which commonly means to ask for in advance (as in I need to bespeak your help) or to reserve beforehand (as in You need to bespeak a table, sir). But bespeak is rarely used as a verb anymore—it sounds very outdated.

Bespoke also sounds a bit old-fashioned, but that’s probably why it became so trendy—it’s often used to imply a handcrafted, unique approach to making something. In its strictest sense, bespoke means made-to-order, but it’s often applied to things that aren’t actually made specifically for someone but that are simply made individually, as opposed to being mass-produced.

Example: I found this website yesterday that does bespoke sweatshirts that can be custom-made to my preferences and body type!

Where does bespoke come from?

The first records of the word bespoke come from the mid-1700s. The verb bespeak is recorded earlier, before 900. It comes from the Old English besprecan. It’s formed from the verb speak and and the prefix be-, which is used to form verbs.

The word bespoke technically describes something that’s been ordered to be one of a kind. The word is traditionally associated with custom-made clothing. Bespoke tailors measure a person and make a bespoke garment specifically to fit that person. (In fact, the term tailor-made is a synonym for bespoke that can be used generally to describe anything custom-made). The word is still often used this way to describe items that are made-to-order, such as bespoke jewelry, bespoke shoes, or bespoke websites.

However, bespoke is often simply applied to products to make them sound more unique. It has become a marketing buzzword similar to words like vintage, artisanal, curated, and craft (as in craft beer and craft cocktails). So beware what’s being sold as bespoke!

Did you know ... ?

What are some other forms of bespoke?

What are some synonyms for bespoke?

What are some words that share a root or word element with bespoke

 

 

What are some words that often get used in discussing bespoke?

 

How is bespoke used in real life?

Bespoke is a synonym for custom-made, but it’s often used to mean “individually made.” Bespoke is very trendy, so it’s often considered a buzzword.

 

 

Try using bespoke!

Which of the following terms is NOT a synonym of bespoke?

A. tailor-made
B. made-to-order
C. mass-produced
D. custom-made

Example sentences from the Web for bespoke

British Dictionary definitions for bespoke

bespoke
/ (bɪˈspəʊk) /

adjective mainly British

(esp of clothing or a website, computer program, etc) made to the customer's specifications
making or selling such clothing, websites, etca bespoke tailor; a bespoke web designer
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