Green’s Dictionary of Slang

outfit n.1

[‘to cross the plains, or go to the mountains, every one must get an outfit; and having outfitted, you become yourself an outfit’ J. F. Meline Two Thousand Miles on Horseback (1867)]

1. as a lit. or fig. piece of equipment.

(a) any object or device.

[UK]A.K. McClure Three Thousand Miles through the Rocky Mountains 211: Everything is an ‘outfit,’ from a train on the plains to a pocket-knife. It is applied almost indiscriminately,—to a wife, a horse, a dog, a cat, or a row of pins.
[US]J.F. Rusling Great West and Pacific Coast 72: An ‘outfit’ is a very general term, meaning anything you may happen to have, from a stamp-mill complete to a tooth-pick – a suit of clothes or a revolver – a twelve-ox team or a velocipede.
[US]‘Hugh McHugh’ Get Next 27: A Reub constable pinched him and the whole outfit and threw him in a rural Bastile for the night.
[Ire]C. Mac Garvey Green Line and the Little Yellow Road in Mac Thomáis (1982) 159: That outfit ought to sell.
[UK]Film Fun 24 Apr. 20: A vastly diverting how-d’ye-do the old outfit presented!
[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 137: Something hit me right square between the horns. It was a big outfit of some kind.
[US]L. Hansberry Raisin in the Sun II i: We could get one of them double-decker outfits.

(b) (UK Und.) a burglar’s or safe-breaker’s equipment.

[US]T. Byrnes Professional Criminals of America [Internet] The hotel thief can carry his entire outfit in his vest pocket and can laugh in his sleeve at the common bolts and bars.
[UK]F.W. Carew Autobiog. of a Gipsey 422: The remainder of the outfit comprised [...] a large cold-chisel called the ‘sergeant-major,’ for cutting through metal plates.
[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 65: Got a scalin’ ladder and a jimmy in your pocket? [...] Then I’ll have to run around to a three ball exchange and see if I can’t dig up an outfit.
[UK]‘Sapper’ Black Gang 352: ‘Have you brought your tools and things?’ ‘Yus —I’ve brought the outfit.’.

(c) (UK prison) whatever is needed for attempting a given escape.

[UK]Partridge DSUE (8th edn) 840: 1950.

(d) (US Und.) a weapon.

[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 267: I [...] ducked into the dark room. The outfit was in the same place.

2. of a collection of individuals.

(a) a travelling party or a party in charge of herds of cattle.

[US]S. Bowles Our New West 163: With a mounted escort of about twenty gallant young miners [...] we made up a grand ‘outfit’.
[US]A. Garcia Tough Trip Through Paradise (1977) 65: If I had gone with the La Brie outfit as intended, La Brie would have found a way to kill me.
[UK]H. O’Reilly Fifty Years on the Trail 125: Our outfit consisted of from twenty-five to thirty head of ponies. Upon them our stores were packed.
[US]A.H. Lewis Wolfville 37: It’s the last outfit on earth as would go an’ give money to people. It’s a good straight camp, Wolfville is. [Ibid.] 61: It’s an outfit of Greaser guerillas.
[US]H. Garland Eagle’s Heart 76: ‘Mose’ was now indispensable to the Pratt ‘outfit.’ He built fires, shot game, herded the cattle, greased the waggons, curried horses and mended harness.
[US]A. Adams Log Of A Cowboy 320: We saw at a glance that it was a cow outfit.
[UK]J. Buchan Mr Standfast (1930) 794: I was in uniform myself now and had taken charge of the outfit.
[US]P.A. Rollins Cowboy 69: Hen’s been with our outfit for six years.
[UK]H.L. Davis Honey in Horn 231: Leave this outfit as soon as your horses are fit to travel.
[US]W.D. Overholser Buckaroo’s Code (1948) 6: A big outfit like Broken Ring.

(b) any group of people; note cits. 1925 and 1943 refer to a single individual.

[UK]W.A. Baillie-Grohman Camps in the Rockies 1: ‘Outfit’ [...] is an expressive Western term, covering every imaginable human, animate, and in animate being or article. The Missourian speaks of his wife and little ones as the outfit he left behind him when he came West.
[US]Ade Fables in Sl. (1902) 146: I can’t tackle that Outfit to-day [...] It’s too big a Job.
[US]A. Adams Log Of A Cowboy 13: I don’t mind how many drinks the outfit takes.
[US]H. Green Actors’ Boarding House (1906) 46: After a long night’s play with a bunch of foolish young men from the Circle D outfit.
[US]Ade Knocking the Neighbors 150: The Graft had developed until the whole Outfit moved to an Apartment where Goods had to be delivered in the Rear.
[US]S. Lewis Babbitt (1974) 24: We don’t train with this millionaire outfit.
[US]K. Mullen ‘Westernisms’ in AS I:3 149: A sentence like, ‘I high-tailed out of there when I found out what a hay-wire outfit she was,’ is far more Western than Tom Mix on a snorting horse.
[US]E. Hemingway letter c.26 May in Baker Sel. Letters (1981) 405: How are you now – and all the outfit?
[US]W. Guthrie Bound for Glory (1969) 94: You ol’ mean outfit, you!
[US]‘Hal Ellson’ Duke 14: That’s a fag outfit. Period.
[US]E. Dundy Dud Avocado (1960) 175: Where is the outfit?
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 811: outfit – A group of people or a commercial firm.
[US](con. 1940s) O’Day & Eells High Times Hard Times (1983) 119: It was a class-A outfit, but I’d had it with big-band work.
[UK]A. Sillitoe Birthday 141: But we all belong to the same outfit in the end.

(c) a criminal organization, a gang.

[US]St Louis (MO) Globe-Democrat 16 Feb. n.p.: That night we let three of the most reckless devils in the outfit into the secret [F&H].
[US]Inter Ocean (Chicago) 25 Jan. 34/6: I’ll be up there and put the whole outfit in a wagon.
[US]W.M. Raine Bucky O’Connor (1910) 124: He was also connected with a certain Arizona outfit which of late had been making money very rapidly.
[US]Ekalaka Eagle (MT) 18 July 2/2: Let us give a little talk in the ‘chain’ — the tramp word for this slang [...] Were you a member of a gang of tramps, you would be a ‘hobo,’ a ‘stiff’ or a ‘burly bum,’ the gang would be known as a ‘push’ or ‘outfit’.
[US]F. Packard White Moll 305: They got the whole outfit from Danglar down, and the stuff up in the ceiling there, too.
[US](con. 1905–25) E.H. Sutherland Professional Thief (1956) 159: It is rare when more than two or three outfits make it a practice to hang out in the one spot continually.
[US]B. Schulberg Harder They Fall (1971) 310: You think you’re only white man in the outfit?
[US]H. McCoy Corruption City 39: This is the greatest outfit of its kind ever put together.
[US]‘Paul Merchant’ ‘Sex Gang’ in Pulling a Train’ (2012) [ebook] Demoiselle was [...] trying to spook the Outifit either into leaving her alone or giving her a bigger cut.
[US]E. De Roo Big Rumble 109: I know the old Shark gang. Always a reliable outfit in a rumble.
[US]‘Red’ Rudensky Gonif 104: Don’t ever try to get rough with any of our outfit.
[US]T. Willocks Green River Rising 69: [He had] built himself a small but serious drugs and muscle outfit.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 6: He was only a fringe member of the outfit.

(d) an organization, a business; a sports team.

[US]C.L. Cullen Tales of the Ex-Tanks 132: I ask the members of this organization [...] if this is a literary outfit or a club of ex-disciples of the Demon Rum.
[US]Sun (N.Y.) 12 Apr. in Fleming Unforgettable Season (1981) 38: If we beat that outfit [i.e. the Chicago Cubs] [...] New York will get another pennant.
[UK]J. Buchan Greenmantle (1930) 255: That accursed Sylvesterabend had played havoc with the whole outfit, and the captain and I were weary men before we got things straight.
[US]J. Lait Broadway Melody 34: Zannie had consented to relent—because he wanted Queenie’s gorgeous figure in his outfit.
[US]R. Chandler ‘Goldfish’ in Red Wind (1946) 155: The Reliance Indemnity Company [...] were a big enough outfit to be as shabby as they liked.
[US](con. 1944) N. Mailer Naked and Dead 271: That Harvard, goddam lefty outfit.
[US]Lait & Mortimer USA Confidential 98: McGrath is said to be a stockholder in three outfits [...]—Kay’s Newport shoe factory, the Otsby & Barton jewelry firm in Providence, and the Construction Equipment Company of Providence.
[US]H.S. Thompson letter 21 Oct. in Proud Highway (1997) 291: Viking is a decent outfit.
[US]G.V. Higgins Digger’s Game (1981) 3: Chickenshit outfit.
[UK]A-Team Storybook 31: The boss of this outfit is a woman.
[UK]K. Sampson Powder 80: It was a young, hungry outfit but they were notoriously picky about the bands they took on.
[UK]J.J. Connolly Layer Cake 67: Making out we were being targeted by the Other People’s Criminal Intelligence outfit, SO11, some of the Yard’s top boys.

(e) a collection of inanimate objects or possessions.

[UK]Sporting Times 18 Mar. 1/4: The young American millionairess came to the dinner party weighed down with pearls, diamonds and rubies. ‘Are those all your jewels?’ [...] ‘Gee whiz! This is not the entire outfit.’.
[US]C.E. Mulford Bar-20 Days [Internet] Ch. xiv: [of a horse] ‘Noon is only two hours away an’ I’m due to lose my outfit.’.
[US]Z. Grey Fighting Caravans (1992) 108: Here’s the outfit of the robbers. You can have first pick.
[US]J. White ‘The Old Chisolm Trail’ in Lonesome Cowboy 7: I’ll sell my outfit as fast as I can, / And I won’t punch cows for no damn man.
[US]Ragen & Finston World’s Toughest Prison 811: outfit – Personal effects.

(f) (US Und.) constr. as The Outfit, a specific criminal organization, usu. the US Mafia or Italian gangs in US prisons; also used as adj.

[US]Phila. Eve. Bulletin 5 Oct. 40/4: Here are a few more terms and definitions from the ‘Racket’ vocabulary: [...] ‘outfit,’ a gang or organization.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 247: Her old man might have ‘outfit’ friends.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Airtight Willie and Me 64: Two Outfit Aces are out to hit you.
[US]Bentley & Corbett Prison Sl. 43: Outfit Used to indicate Italian mafia gangs found throughout the United States.
[US](con. 1964–8) J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand 17: Bobby fucked with the Outfit très large. [Ibid.] 35: Guy wasn’t Outfit. Guy’s wishes meant shit.

3. in drug uses.

(a) equipment for the preparation and smoking of opium.

[US]E.W. Townsend A Daughter of the Tenements 226: A little lacquer tray containing a smoker’s outfit: the pipe, a tiny horn-box of opium, the lamp, and the needle on which the opium is cooked over the lamp.
[US]I.L. Nascher Wretches of Povertyville 176: The smoking outfit consists of the pipe, lamp, needle, pipe bowl cleaner, sponge, a small bowl to hold water, hop jar, and ash receiver.
[UK]‘Sax Rohmer’ Dope 90: ‘You obtain your opium from Lola?’ ‘Yes. Kazmah sent her to me. She keeps me on ridiculously low rations, and if I had not brought my own outfit I don’t think she would have sold me one.’.
[US]H. Asbury Gangs of N.Y. 296: In 1912 detectives invaded his apartment in East Thirteenth street and found him smoking opium, and in possession of a complete outfit for the manufacture of the drug.
[US]‘Boxcar Bertha’ Sister of the Road (1975) 115: This particular outfit, or ‘layout,’ consisted of six bowls and four stems, three small traveling lamps that burned peanut oil, a dozen yen hoks, (like a crochet hook, but finer and more flexible, used for preparing the opium pill) and three yen shee gows, steel instruments for removing the yen shee or ash from the inside of the bowl.
[US](con. 1930s) Courtwright & Des Jarlais Addicts Who Survived 97: The outfit was bulky. You had to have the pipe – the stick – the opium, the gee rag, and the top part of the bowl, and the things to clean it after you were through smoking.

(b) (also bang outfit, fit) the equipment (needle, spoon, cotton etc) used for narcotic injection.

[US]J. Black You Can’t Win (2000) 135: Their outfit was carefully put away in the tobacco bag.
[US]‘William Lee’ Junkie (1966) 121: She keeps outfits in glasses of alcohol, so the junkies can fix in the joint and walk out clean.
[US]M. Braly Shake Him Till He Rattles (1964) 43: You know I don’t have a ’fit.
[US]‘Iceberg Slim’ Pimp 95: Please ‘Sweet’, cook it for me and load my outfit. [Ibid.] 130: I stashed the binoculars in a coat pocket with my ‘C’ and bang outfit.
[US]E. Bunker No Beast So Fierce 268: Let me get my outfit. I’ll need a geez before I get back.
[US]E. Bunker Little Boy Blue (1995) 262: The outfit – was right there on the floor. He was out cold and gasping.
[US](con. early 1950s) J. Ellroy L.A. Confidential 56: Needle marks and that outfit are good for three years State.
[US]E. Little Another Day in Paradise 30: [...] laying down the outfit – a spoon, water, and five caps of stuff.
[US](con. 1975–6) E. Little Steel Toes 114: Syd is washing her outfit out in [...] water, sucking the liquid up through the needle and squirting it out onto the carpet.
[SA]A. Lovejoy Acid Alex 260: I bought a button outfit, and got fucking gerook.

In phrases

whole outfit (n.)

the lot, everything.

[US]S. Ford Shorty McCabe 47: He was ready to swear the whole outfit [...] that there hadn’t been a girl on the premises.
[US] in J.F. Dobie Rainbow in Morning 92: The whole outfit.
[UK]Guardian 10 Jun. [Internet] Losses are looming at Virgin Rail. The value of Virgin Mobile is arguably shrinking in a steeply weakening overall market for portable phones. And threats to the airline’s profitability from a battered transatlantic market could endanger the whole outfit.