Suit Yourself

I overheard a mother and daughter talking about something completely irrelevant the other day.  I believe I was in line at the grocery store and they were debating which flavor of gum to purchase.  The mother got tired of the conversation and wrapped it up by saying, “suit yourself”.  It was an effective means to the end of the discussion.  However, it left me thinking.  Where does that expression come from?  Suit yourself?

I think you call those kinds of word uses “idioms”.  An idiom is an expression whose meaning is not predictable from the usual meanings of its individual words.  Thanks Webster!  So, I get the use.  “Suit yourself” translated means, “I’m done talking to you.  My opinion doesn’t matter to you and so just do whatever you want to do in the first place.”  In some areas of the country, the translation differs slightly.  “I’m done talking to you.  My opinion doesn’t matter to you and so just do whatever you want to do in the first place, you stupid ass-clown”.

Where was the phrase “suit yourself” first used?  I failed to find the derivation of this idiom.  My Google search let me down.  I was searching for at least twenty-five seconds, so obviously the answer isn’t out there.

So here are my best guesses on where the phrase “suit yourself” came from.

Back in the old west, this guy was playing poker and his buddy was looking over his shoulder.  His friend whispered to him that he should draw into a possible straight.  However he wanted to play for a potential flush (where the cards are of the same suit).  Exasperated, the friend exclaimed, “Fine!  I think you’ll lose this hand, but suit yourself.”  And there was a lot of spitting into spittoons.

An Old West poker game

Or maybe…

There was this lawyer debating with his colleagues on whether or not to proceed with his case as a class-action suit or an individual case.  His colleagues failed to sway him to see the benefits of having his client join a class-action suit.  So concluding the conversation they said, “If you really think the client will see success without the class-action concept, then suit yourself.”

Or maybe…

Abraham Lincoln was trying to decide which suit jacket to wear for his night out on the town.  His wife had her suggestions and he had his.  Finally, after too much debate Mrs. Lincoln said, “You know you’ll be too cold in that one, but suit yourself.  The Ford Theater is always too cold.”  And the rest is history.

Who’s up for a play?

Don’t like any of these?  Fine, suit yourself.

Buy my book. Or don’t.  Suit yourself.

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3 responses to “Suit Yourself

  1. In Scottish English, this can sound like “Suture Sail”. Additionally, when introduced with a resigned ‘oh well’, it becomes a paen to the cetacean – Oh Whale! Suture Sail.

    • Interesting. Is the actual phase “suit yourself” something that is used in your neck of the woods? Or is that an American thing?

      • My neck of the woods (woodsneck?) is somewhat south of Scotland, over the border in Northeast England but I would say that the expression ‘suit yourself’ is commonly used throughout the British Isles. ‘Have it your own way’ is almost, but not quite, as prevalent.

Thoughts? Go.

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