See more synonyms for vest on
  1. a close-fitting, waist-length, sleeveless garment that buttons down the front, designed to be worn under a jacket.
  2. a part or trimming simulating the front of such a garment; vestee.Compare dickey1(def 1).
  3. a waist-length garment worn for protective purposes: a bulletproof vest.
  4. a sleeveless, waist- or hip-length garment made of various materials, with a front opening usually secured by buttons, a zipper, or the like, worn over a shirt, blouse, dress, or other article for style or warmth: a sweater vest; a down vest.
  5. British. an undervest or undershirt.
  6. a long garment resembling a cassock, worn by men in the time of Charles II.
  7. Archaic.
    1. dress; apparel.
    2. an outer garment, robe, or gown.
    3. an ecclesiastical vestment.
verb (used with object)
  1. to clothe; dress; robe.
  2. to dress in ecclesiastical vestments: to vest a bishop.
  3. to cover or drape (an altar).
  4. to place or settle (something, especially property, rights, powers, etc.) in the possession or control of someone (usually followed by in): to vest authority in a new official.
  5. to invest or endow (a person, group, committee, etc.) with something, as powers, functions, or rights: to vest the board with power to increase production; to vest an employee with full benefits in the pension plan.
verb (used without object)
  1. to put on vestments.
  2. to become vested in a person, as a right.
  3. to devolve upon a person as possessor; pass into possession or ownership.
  1. play it close to the vest, Informal. to avoid taking unnecessary risks.

Origin of vest

1375–1425; (noun) late Middle English < Italian veste robe, dress < Latin vestis garment; (v.) late Middle English < Middle French vestir < Latin vestīre to clothe, derivative of vestis; akin to wear
Related formsvest·less, adjectivevest·like, adjective Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for vest

Contemporary Examples of vest

Historical Examples of vest

  • He pulled his watch from the pocket of his vest, hanging on the bedpost.

  • And, firm and dauntless, Morton laid his hand on the giant's vest.

    Night and Morning, Complete

    Edward Bulwer-Lytton

  • She heard him take off his coat and vest and hang them on the back of a chair.

    Bride of the Mistletoe

    James Lane Allen

  • She again touches it; it is drawn from her vest; it falls to the ground.

    Vivian Grey

    Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli

  • He dipped into his vest pocket and produced his silver stop watch.

    Old Man Curry

    Charles E. (Charles Emmett) Van Loan

British Dictionary definitions for vest


  1. an undergarment covering the body from the shoulders to the hips, made of cotton, nylon, etcUS and Canadian equivalent: T-shirt, undershirt Austral equivalent: singlet
  2. a similar sleeveless garment worn as outerwearAustral equivalent: singlet
  3. US, Canadian and Australian a man's sleeveless waistlength garment worn under a suit jacket, usually buttoning up the frontAlso called (in Britain and certain other countries): waistcoat
  4. obsolete any form of dress, esp a long robe
  1. (tr foll by in) to place or settle (power, rights, etc, in)power was vested in the committee
  2. (tr foll by with) to bestow or confer (on)the company was vested with authority
  3. (usually foll by in) to confer (a right, title, property, etc, upon) or (of a right, title, etc) to pass (to) or devolve (upon)
  4. (tr) to clothe or array
  5. (intr) to put on clothes, ecclesiastical vestments, etc
Derived Formsvestless, adjectivevestlike, adjective

Word Origin for vest

C15: from Old French vestir to clothe, from Latin vestīre, from vestis clothing
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

Word Origin and History for vest

early 15c., "to put in possession of a person," from Middle French vestir, from Medieval Latin vestire "to put into possession, to invest," from Latin vestire "to clothe," related to vestis "garment, clothing," from PIE *wes- "to clothe" (see wear). Related: Vested; vesting.


1610s, "loose outer garment" (worn by men in Eastern countries or in ancient times), from French veste, from Italian vesta, veste "robe, gown," from Latin vestis, from vestire "to clothe" (see vest (v.)). The sleeveless garment worn by men beneath the coat was introduced by Charles II.

The King hath yesterday, in Council, declared his resolution of setting a fashion for clothes .... It will be a vest, I know not well how; but it is to teach the nobility thrift. [Pepys, "Diary," Oct. 8, 1666]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper