Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search


Mobutu (on the left) wearing an abacost in 1983.


From French. A contraction of à bas le costume (down with the western suit)[1]



abacost (plural abacosts)

  1. (chiefly historical) A short- or long-sleeved button-up jacket, worn without a shirt, that was promoted in Zaire under the regime of Mobutu Sese Seko. [First attested in the late 20th century][1]
    • 2005, Jeanne M. Haskin, The tragic state of the Congo: from decolonization to dictatorship, Algora, page 44:
      Wearing a collarless jacket called the abacost that reflected the style of chairman Mao, Mobutu outlawed the traditional suits and business dress of the West.
    • 2006, Martin Meredith, Africa: from the hopes of freedom to the heart of despair, PublicAffairs, page 296:
      The abacost became Mobutu's personal trademark, []
    • 2007, Gemma Pitcher et al., Africa 11th ed., Lonely Planet, page 562:
      [T]he new leader [Mobutu Sese Seko] embarked on a campaign of 'Africanisation', with [] suits giving way to the abacost (a Congolese version of the Mao jacket); []
    • 2007, Michael Powell, 101 People You Won't Meet in Heaven, Globe Pequot, page 206:
      [A]ll western clothing was banned—to be replaced by one-piece tunic called an abacost.


  1. 1.0 1.1 Lesley Brown, editor-in-chief; William R. Trumble and Angus Stevenson, editors (2002), “abacost”, in The Shorter Oxford English Dictionary on Historical Principles, 5th edition, Oxford; New York, N.Y.: Oxford University Press, →ISBN, page 2.



English Wikipedia has an article on:


Contraction of the political slogan à bas le costume! (down with the suit!).



abacost m (plural abacosts)

  1. (Africa, chiefly historical) abacost