[kuhs-tuh m]
See more synonyms for custom on
  1. a habitual practice; the usual way of acting in given circumstances.
  2. habits or usages collectively; convention.
  3. a practice so long established that it has the force of law.
  4. such practices collectively.
  5. Sociology. a group pattern of habitual activity usually transmitted from one generation to another.
  6. toll; duty.
  7. customs,
    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.
  8. regular patronage of a particular shop, restaurant, etc.
  9. the customers or patrons of a business firm, collectively.
  10. the aggregate of customers.
  11. (in medieval Europe) a customary tax, tribute, or service owed by peasants to their lord.
  1. made specially for individual customers: custom shoes.
  2. 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 Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for custom

Contemporary Examples of custom

Historical Examples of custom

  • 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.


    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


  1. a usual or habitual practice; typical mode of behaviour
  2. the long-established habits or traditions of a society collectively; conventioncustom 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)
  3. habitual patronage, esp of a shop or business
  4. the customers of a shop or business collectively
  5. (in feudal Europe) a tribute paid by a vassal to his lord
  1. made to the specifications of an individual customer (often in the combinations custom-built, custom-made)
  2. specializing in goods so made
See also customs

Word Origin for custom

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

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