Bespeak vs bespoke

Bespeak is a verb that means to contract or hire a person or services before the necessary time. It also means to tell about something before it happens, like a prediction. Bepeak can mean a sign or evidence of something or to ask for something.

The other forms of this verb include bespoke, bespoken, and bespeaking.

However, bespoke has another meaning as well. It is used as an adjective for clothing, services, or even software that is made specifically for one person. Bespoke is also used to describe those that make said clothing or services. This term is used much more frequently outside the United States.


The court was satisfied that the conduct relied upon by Mr Hadgkiss to support his allegations of contraventions of the Fair Work Act “in each case, bespeak an intent to coerce”. [The Australian Financial Review]

The hunched twist of his body, his furrowed brow, the set of his mouth all bespeak the grim determination only true fighters understand. [The New Zealand Herald]

There’s still a minor sheen of snobbery around the store-bought outfit – the box-fresh Harry Potters and the satin-stitched Disney princesses bespeaking cash-rich time-poor parents (or rather mothers, since it’s usually mothers who have to soak this up) who just won’t make the effort to build a bespoke Iron Giant exoskeleton for their apparently-not-that-loved-after-all little darling. [The Guardian]

This type of bespoke personalised service which we are now driving out to the ring road superstores to avoid, will probably come at a premium in the future. [The Irish Times]

In fact, 95 percent of all Rolls-Royce customers order their cars bespoke in some way. [Bloomberg Business]

4 thoughts on “Bespeak vs bespoke”

  1. I’ll admit, it is personal, but I really, really dislike the sudden popularity of “bespoke”. It always sounds like the past-tense of bespeak (which until I read this, I had no idea what meant), but it really isn’t related at all.

    “Bespoke” is a rubber duck: perky, faddish, suave, but without merit. Then again, the advertising world just loves to use archaic Britishisms to fluff up their products. A well appointed vehicle just sounds so expensive and luxurious. Fluff. Perhaps we need a law making it a felony for advertising agencies to have or use thesauri!


    • The word has always been used in those areas that speak actual English; to wit, outside of the United Sates. It is not a ‘fad’ here, nor has it anything to do with advertising. It means what it has always meant.

      • LOL

        “Never pass an opportunity for a hapless typo to undermine a fine shibboleth” mmm specifically “United Sates”.

        Your argument is solid enough: bespoke is used in countries other than America (298M), Australia (17M), India (125M), Canada (28M), Philippines (57M), Pakistan (92M), Nigeria (82M), Ireland (4.3M), Germany (51M), and so forth.

        Leaving Britain (62M). And in Britain, bespoke is only commonly used in parlance among those classes who actually aspire to buy custom-made products and highly personalized services. Not the “chattering classes” as y’all would derisively say.

        Dunno, duke. I think you actually did a good job supporting exactly why I dislike the word so much. Thanks!



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