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Alternative forms[edit]


Etymology 1[edit]

First attested in 1550s. From Middle English accessorie, from Medieval Latin accessōrius, from Latin accessor (helper, subordinate), from accessus. Compare access, from same root.


accessory (comparative more accessory, superlative most accessory)

  1. Having a secondary, supplementary or subordinate function by accompanying as a subordinate; aiding in a secondary way; being additional; contributing or being contributory.
    accessory garments
    Surprise parties succeed with the help of accessory neighbors or colleagues.
  2. (law) Assisting a crime without actually participating in committing the crime itself; being connected as an incident or subordinate to a principal.
    Hypernym: accomplice
    Coordinate term: principal
    Her actions were clearly accessory because they helped him commit and probably also conceal the crime.
  3. Present in a minor amount, and not essential.
    accessory mineral
Usage notes[edit]
  • (secondary, supplementary): Said of things and actions, very rarely of people (and then usually in a humorous version of the legal sense, or due to confusion between the noun and the adjective).
Derived terms[edit]

Etymology 2[edit]

  • (legal): First attested in 1414.
  • (fashion): First attested in 1896.


accessory (plural accessories)

  1. Something that belongs to part of another main thing; something additional and subordinate, an attachment.
    the accessories of a mobile phone
  2. (fashion) An article that completes one's basic outfit, such as a scarf or gloves.
  3. (law) A person who is not present at a crime, but contributes to it as an assistant or instigator.
    She was an accessory to the murder because she helped him commit and probably also conceal the crime.
    • 2005, Jennifer Worth, Shadows of the Workhouse, Weidenfeld & Nicholson (2009), page 150:
      “You can be an accessory before the fact, or an accessory after the fact. It doesnʼt matter if itʼs before or after; either way youʼd be in for it.”
  4. (art) Something in a work of art without being indispensably necessary, for example solely ornamental parts.
Derived terms[edit]
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