View synonyms for empty suit

empty suit

[ emp-tee soot ]


, Slang.
  1. an executive, manager, or official regarded as ineffectual, incompetent, or lacking in leadership qualities such as creativity and empathy:

    Their executive search came up with one empty suit after another.

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Word History and Origins

Origin of empty suit1

First recorded in 1950–55; empty ( def ) + suit ( def ) (in the sense “faceless decision maker”)

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Idioms and Phrases

An unimportant person; also, a phony. For example, Don't pay any attention to him—he's just an empty suit , or She acts as though she knows what she's doing, but she's really an empty suit . This graphic expression calls up the image of an empty suit of clothes. [c. 1970]

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Example Sentences

Remember his summer blitz of attack ads about Obama being an empty suit, a celebrity and a pretty face and all that?

And far from defining him as an empty suit, it suggests he is one filled with both hubris and sanctimony.

Ali had devised a method of protection for the empty suit the Medic would wear—had that held?

I open the case—I take out the collar—I place it gently on the porch railing—and I take the empty suit-case into the house.

We furnished him with an empty suit-case, and, from the window, watched him making for Mitre Court at a smart double.


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[ak-suh-lot-l ]

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Definitions and idiom definitions from Unabridged, based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

Idioms from The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.




empty signifierempty word