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I'm wondering about the use of the word accessory as an adjective.

Would it be preferable in BE to say something like "This DJ controller comes with accessory headphones"?

I feel that "This DJ controller comes with headphones" or "This DJ controller includes headphones" is more correct and more preferable, and that accessory as an adjective sounds awkward. I have a colleague, however, who insists that accessory as an adjective is used widely in the UK, and that included is very American.

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An accessory is something that is optionally available at extra cost when making a purchase. Something not required for the use of the main item. So in your example, the headphones normally cost extra.

A salesman may use in his pitch the phrase included accessory to indicate that something normally costing extra is included in this instance.

It is sales-speak rather than a particular difference between US and UK grammar.

  • Definitely, when it comes to using 'accessory' as a noun the usage isn't an issue. It's just the usage as an adjective that seems off/awkward to me. – JLMAlexander Feb 13 '15 at 13:15
  • You're using "accessory" as a noun here. OP is asking specifically about using it as an adjective. – R Mac Apr 14 '15 at 14:23
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"Accessory" as commonly used in reference to electronic devices, is very poorly defined. It could refer to something that comes with the device, in the same package, or something that must be purchased separately.

Probably the only semi-reliable aspect of "accessory" is that it refers to something whose presence/use is not necessary for the basic functioning of the device. (Though I'm sure you will even find exceptions to this -- eg, is a power "brick" an "accessory"? The industry uses the term very loosely.)

Note that "accessory" does not imply "included" -- many items designated as "accessory" must be purchased separately. (And "accessories not included" is a common voice-over message for stuff being touted in TV commercials.)

As to adjective vs noun, the same range of meanings apply to both. Even if there was a subtle dictionary difference, the word is so heavily used in commerce that that use overwhelms any dictionary fine print.

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