How To Describe Clothing In Turkish

avatarMille Larsen
3 mins read

This week I decided to learn about clothing terms in Turkish, and in doing so, to discover more about the Turkish language, grammar, etc.

In order to get started, I needed to know what to search for. I checked Google Translate for "clothes" and it said "giysi", but searching Google for giysi turned up pages of toys, so that's not right. Obviously there some subtlety here that I'll want to understand later. But for now, I'm not going to worry about it.

When I checked Google Translate for "men's clothes," it said "erkek giysileri". A Google search for erkek giysileri turned up mixed results, but among the results were several including the term "erkek giyim". Bingo. Googling erkek giyim turns up endless results for men's clothes.

This process is quite valuable, because I'm learning the root "giy-" and noticing how various endings differ in meaning, even if I don't know exactly what they mean. And I've learned the words erkek giyim - men's clothes.

Clicking through sites in the results provides endless opportunities to learn terms related to men's clothes. Not only things like shirts, jackets, and shoes, but also sizes, brands, famous, popular, etc. This is exactly why learning through use is so important. I'm not isolating my learning to only a list of vocabulary.

Several clothing words are phonetic matches for words I already know in other languages, such as ceket (jacket), palto (coat), pantolon (pants), and kravat (tie). Other phonetic matches are obvious as well, including popüler (popular), parfüm (perfume), İtalyan dizayn (Italian design), and moda (style). I'm also finding a few loanwords show up a lot, such as "fashion" and "exclusive".

Frankly, at this early stage, these are the most important words — the ones I already know — because the knowledge that I already know several Turkish words give me a huge confidence boost while I'm working on learning words I don't know. It also gives me a reference point for figuring things out when I see them in context.

One interesting item I find as I learn about men's clothing is takım elbise - "suit". When I see two words to describe one thing, I see an opportunity to learn! Google Translate says elbise is "dress" and takım is "group". When you Google "takım", you find group photos of sports teams. So takım elbise - suit - refers to clothing items working as a team! That's a really interesting way to think of a suit!