The words sweet and suite are homophones: they sound alike but have different meanings. In contrast, the word suit rhymes with fruit.
As a noun, suit (pronounced "sewt") means a costume, a set of garments, a claim in court, or a set of playing cards bearing the same mark. As a verb, to suit means to be appropriate or satisfactory.
The noun suite (pronounced "sweet") means a musical composition, a staff of attendants, or a set of things (such as pieces of furniture) that form a unit. (In parts of Canada, suite is also used as a synonym for apartment or flat.) The phrase en suite refers to a bathroom that's connected directly to a bedroom.
The adjective sweet means pleasing to the mind or senses, especially the sense of taste. (See 100 Sweet Similes.) As an interjection or exclamation, sweet means great, outstanding, or very nice.
- "Mr. Huber was coming at seven to take their photograph for the Christmas card. She had put out Francis' blue suit and a tie with some color in it, because the picture was going to be in color this year." (John Cheever, "The Country Husband." The Stories of John Cheever. Knopf, 1978
- A New Hampshire doctor won a significant victory in the medical profession's counterattack on harassing malpractice suits.
- "If you are unhappy at work and spend eight hours a day, five days a week there, it is a large proportion of waking life to spend doing something that doesn't suit you." (Sue Hadfield, Brilliant Positive Thinking. FT Press, 2012)
- The presidential suite in the new hotel is usually occupied by rock stars and other visiting celebrities.
- "For every bad judgment, the fine was no silver-wrapped Kisses, the sweet chocolate drops that I loved more than anything in the world, except Bailey." (Maya Angelou, I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings. Random House, 1969)
- "I am beginning to learn that it is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." (Laura Ingalls Wilder, quoted by John E. Miller in Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder. University of Missouri Press, 2006)
- Follow Suit: "The expression follow suit (which comes from the source domain of card games, including the game of bridge) means to act or do something in the same way as someone else. "She had fallen in love. As always, I followed suit. But while love made her brilliant, at first, it made me laggard and dull." (Tennessee Williams, "The Resemblance Between a Violin Case and a Coffin." Hard Candy and Other Stories. New Directions, 1954)
- Suit Yourself!: The imperative idiom suit yourself is often used to mean do whatever you want (though you'll probably regret it). "He handed the bottle to Doc, who raised his hand in refusal. The sergeant shrugged. 'Suit yourself, man, all the more for me.'" (Bryce Courtenay, The Power of One. Ballantine, 1996)
- Sweet Tooth: The noun phrase sweet tooth refers to a person's fondness for foods that are sweet. "To say someone has a sweet tooth is a bit odd, considering that teeth are the only part of the mouth without taste buds. Saying you have a 'sweet tongue' or 'sweet roof of your mouth' doesn't sound too enticing, does it? Thee term 'sweet tooth' originates from 'toothsome,' meaning pleasing to the taste." (Kristine Miles, The Green Smoothie Bible. Ulysses Press, 2012)
- Short and Sweet: The expression short and sweet means brief and appropriate.
"When you shake hands with thousands of people every year you need to keep each handshake short and sweet, and that's exactly what the Queen was trying to do when she encountered Martin McGuinness, Northern Ireland's deputy first minister." (Peter Collett, "The Queen-McGuinness Handshake: What the Body Language Revealed." The Guardian UK, June 27, 2012)
(a) Jazz musician Duke Ellington composed a 14-part _____ inspired by a line from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
(b) The space _____ has a loose outside layer of shiny, aluminum fabric to protect the inner layers and reflect heat.
(c) "Revenge is _____ and not fattening." (Alfred Hitchcock)
Answers to Practice Exercises: Suit, Suite, and Sweet
(a) Jazz musician Duke Ellington composed a 14-part suite inspired by a line from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream.
(b) The space suit has a loose outside layer of shiny, aluminum fabric to protect the inner layers and reflect heat.
(c) "Revenge is sweet and not fattening."
Glossary of Usage: Index of Commonly Confused Words