seventh letter of the alphabet, invented by the Romans; a modified gamma introduced c. 250 B.C.E. to restore a dedicated symbol for the "g" sound. For fuller history, see C.
Before the vowels -e-, -i-, and -y-, Old English initial g- changed its sound and is represented in Modern English by consonantal y- (year, yard, yellow, young, yes, etc.). In get and give, however, the initial g- seems to have been preserved by Scandinavian influence. As a movie rating in the U.S., 1966, standing for general (adj.). Standing for gravity in physics since 1785.
c. 1300, sute, also suete, suite, seute, "a band of followers; a retinue, company;" also "set of matching garments" worn by such persons, "matching livery or uniform;" hence " kind, sort; the same kind, a match;" also "pursuit, chase," and in law, "obligation (of a tenant) to attend court; attendance at court," from Anglo-French suit, siwete, from Old French suite, sieute "pursuit, act of following, hunt; retinue; assembly" (12c., Modern French suite), from Vulgar Latin *sequita, fem. of *sequitus, from Latin secutus, past participle of sequi "to attend, follow" (from PIE root *sekw- (1) "to follow").
Legal sense of "lawsuit; legal action" is from mid-14c. Meaning "the wooing of a woman" is from late 15c. Meaning "set of clothes to be worn together" is attested from late 14c., also "matching material or fabric," from notion of the livery or uniform of court attendants. As a derisive term for "businessman," it dates from 1979. Meaning "matched set of objects, number of objects of the same kind or pattern used together" is from late 14c., as is that of "row, series, sequence." Meaning "set of playing cards bearing the same symbol" is attested from 1520s, also ultimately from the notion of livery. To follow suit (1670s) is from card-playing: "play a card of the same suit first played," hence, figuratively, "continue the conduct of a predecessor."
1878, geestring, "loincloth worn by an American Indian," originally the string that holds it up, etymology unknown. The spelling with G (1882) is perhaps from influence of violin string tuned to a G (in this sense G string is first recorded 1831), the lowest and heaviest of the violin strings. First used of women's attire 1936, with reference to strip-teasers.
I AM the spirit of the silver "G":
I am silvered sadness,
I am moonlit gladness,
I am that fine madness
Of reverence half, and half of ecstasy
[from "Spirit of the 'G' String," Alfred L. Donaldson, in "Songs of My Violin," 1901]
It forms all or part of: ablactation; cafe au lait; galactic; galaxy; lactate (v.); lactate (n.); lactation; lacteal; lactescence; lactic; lactivorous; lacto-; lactose; latte; lettuce.
It is the hypothetical source of/evidence for its existence is provided by: Latin lac (genitive lactis) "milk;" Greek gala (genitive galaktos), "milk;" Armenian dialectal kaxc' "milk." The initial "g" probably was lost in Latin by dissimilation. This and the separate root *melg-, account for words for "milk" in most of the Indo-European languages. The absence of a common word for it is considered a mystery.