Entries linking to suitcase
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."
"receptacle, box, that which encloses or contains," early 14c., from Anglo-French and Old North French casse (Old French chasse "case, reliquary;" Modern French châsse), from Latin capsa "box, repository" (especially for books), from capere "to take, hold" (from PIE root *kap- "to grasp").
The meaning "outer protective covering" is from late 14c. Also used from 1660s with a sense of "frame" (as in staircase, casement). Artillery sense is from 1660s, from case-shot "small projectiles put in cases" (1620s). Its application in the printing trade (first recorded 1580s) to the two shallow wooden trays where compositors keep their types in compartments for easy access led to upper-case for capital letters (1862), so called from its higher position on the compositor's sloped work-table, and lower-case for small letters.
The cases, or receptacles, for the type, which are always in pairs, and termed the 'upper' and the 'lower,' are formed of two oblong wooden frames, divided into compartments or boxes of different dimensions, the upper case containing ninety-eight and the lower fifty-four. In the upper case are placed the capital, small capital, and accented letters, also figures, signs for reference to notes &c.; in the lower case the ordinary running letter, points for punctuation, spaces for separating the words, and quadrats for filling up the short lines. [The Literary Gazette, Jan. 29, 1859]
updated on December 29, 2013