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[kuhs-tuh m] /ˈkʌs təm/
a habitual practice; the usual way of acting in given circumstances.
habits or usages collectively; convention.
a practice so long established that it has the force of law.
such practices collectively.
Sociology. a group pattern of habitual activity usually transmitted from one generation to another.
toll; duty.
  1. (used with a singular or plural verb) duties imposed by law on imported or, less commonly, exported goods.
  2. (used with a singular verb) the government department that collects these duties.
  3. (used with a singular verb) the section of an airport, station, etc., where baggage is checked for contraband and for goods subject to duty.
regular patronage of a particular shop, restaurant, etc.
the customers or patrons of a business firm, collectively.
the aggregate of customers.
(in medieval Europe) a customary tax, tribute, or service owed by peasants to their lord.
made specially for individual customers:
custom shoes.
dealing in things so made, or doing work to order:
a custom tailor.
Origin of custom
1150-1200; Middle English custume < Anglo-French; Old French costume < Vulgar Latin *co(n)s(uē)tūmin-, replacing Latin consuētūdin- (stem of consuētūdō), equivalent to consuēt(us) accustomed, past participle of consuēscere (con- con- + suē- (akin to suus one's own) + -tus past participle suffix) + -ūdin- noun suffix; cf. costume
Synonym Study
1, 2. Custom, habit, practice mean an established way of doing things. Custom, applied to a community or to an individual, implies a more or less permanent continuance of a social usage: It is the custom to give gifts at Christmas time. Habit, applied particularly to an individual, implies such repetition of the same action as to develop a natural, spontaneous, or rooted tendency or inclination to perform it: to make a habit of reading the newspapers. Practice applies to a set of fixed habits or an ordered procedure in conducting activities: It is his practice to verify all statements. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for custom
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • I supposed this to be a custom with the colored population of Turkey, and passed on.

  • The conditions are appalling, but, according to the custom of the country, they are "moral."

  • As was his custom, he wore no overcoat, but a short sweater under his coat.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • His hand came under my chin as his custom was in giving orders.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
  • This is the custom of the Indians when they are about to fight,--they hide their families.

    The Trail Book Mary Austin
British Dictionary definitions for custom


a usual or habitual practice; typical mode of behaviour
the long-established habits or traditions of a society collectively; convention: custom dictates good manners
  1. a practice which by long-established usage has come to have the force of law
  2. such practices collectively (esp in the phrase custom and practice)
habitual patronage, esp of a shop or business
the customers of a shop or business collectively
(in feudal Europe) a tribute paid by a vassal to his lord
made to the specifications of an individual customer (often in the combinations custom-built, custom-made)
specializing in goods so made
See also customs
Word Origin
C12: from Old French costume, from Latin consuētūdō, from consuēscere to grow accustomed to, from suēscere to be used to
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for custom

c.1200, "habitual practice," from Old French costume "custom, habit, practice; clothes, dress" (12c., Modern French coutume), from Vulgar Latin *consuetumen, from Latin consuetudinem (nominative consuetudo) "habit, usage, way, practice, tradition, familiarity," from consuetus, past participle of consuescere "accustom," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + suescere "become used to, accustom oneself," related to sui, genitive of suus "oneself," from PIE *swe- "oneself" (see idiom). Replaced Old English þeaw. Sense of a "regular" toll or tax on goods is early 14c. The native word here is toll.


"made to measure or order," c.1830, from custom (n.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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