Strong suit and long suit are two versions of a popular idiom. An idiom is a commonly used word, group of words, or phrase that has a figurative meaning that is not easily deduced from its literal definition. Often using descriptive imagery or metaphors, common idioms are words and phrases used in the English language in order to convey a concise idea, and are often spoken or are considered informal or conversational. English idioms can illustrate emotion more quickly than a phrase that has a literal meaning, even when the etymology or origin of the idiomatic expression is lost. An idiom is a metaphorical figure of speech, and it is understood that it is not a use of literal language. Figures of speech like an often-used metaphor have definitions and connotations that go beyond the literal meaning of the words. Mastery of the turn of phrase of an idiom, which may use slang words or other parts of speech common in American slang or British slang, is essential for the English learner. Many English as a Second Language students do not understand idiomatic expressions and idiomatic language such as hit the sack, spill the beans, let the cat out of the bag, silver lining, back to the drawing board, barking up the wrong tree, kick the bucket, hit the nail on the head, face the music, under the weather, piece of cake, when pigs fly, and raining cats and dogs, because they attempt to translate them word for word, which yields only the literal meaning. English phrases that are idioms should not be taken literally. In addition to learning vocabulary and grammar, one must understand the phrasing of the figurative language of idiomatic phrases in order to know English like a native speaker; it is helpful to maintain a list of phrases, common expressions, colloquial terms, and popular expressions to memorize that are used figuratively or idiomatically. We will examine the meaning of the common idiom strong suit or long suit, where it came from, and some examples of its idiomatic usage in sentences.
Strong suit and long suit are idioms that mean someone’s strength or talent; an outstanding quality that someone has or something that one excels at doing. The expressions strong suit and long suit have been in use for hundreds of years and are derived from playing card games. The term long suit originally referred to holding many cards belonging to one suit in one’s hand, making it easier to win rounds of a card game such as whist or bridge. Soon, the term strong suit came into use, and the terms were equally popular until the mid-twentieth century, when the term strong suit soared in popularity.
“That’s definitely my strong suit, that’s definitely something I’m really good at,” Hall said. (Williamsport Sun Gazette)
“Halter making wasn’t my strong suit, given the fact I have no cattle on the farm,” he laughed, but his overall performance was strong enough to clinch him a place in the final. (Scottish Farmer)
When a haggard Tannhäuser finally returns, he admits his meeting with the Pope did not go as planned; forgiveness, it seems, is not his long suit when it comes to transgressions of an erotic nature with That Woman. (Los Angeles Daily News)
The Journey’s long suit isn’t refinement but bang for the buck. (Car and Driver)