View synonyms for custom


[ kuhs-tuhm ]


  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.


/ ˈkʌstəm /


  1. a usual or habitual practice; typical mode of behaviour
  2. 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 )
  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

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Word History and Origins

Origin of custom1

First recorded in 1150–1200; Middle English custume, from Anglo-French; Old French costume, from Vulgar Latin co(n)s(uē)tūmin- (unrecorded), replacing Latin consuētūdin-, stem of consuētūdō “habit, practice, tradition,” from consuē(tus) “accustomed” (past participle of consuēscere “to accustom onself,” from con- con- + suēscere “to become accustomed,” akin to suus “one's own”) + -tūdō -tude; costume

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Word History and Origins

Origin of custom1

C12: from Old French costume, from Latin consuētūdō, from consuēscere to grow accustomed to, from suēscere to be used to

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Synonym Study

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.

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Example Sentences

Trusted Media Brands’ edit integrations, for example, do not cost the same as custom content, Gier said, who declined to share specific prices.

From Digiday

It was just in January that Kristen took us along for the ride as she dove into the world of women’s custom suits.

From Fortune

The May rules ban any firm, American or not, from using American software or chipmaking equipment to create custom-made processors for Huawei.

From Fortune

Instead of shots of cohosts gallivanting around on holiday, for example, Insider’s custom productions now might rely on voice-overs on footage shot on location.

From Digiday

Investors certainly saw the loss of Huawei’s custom chips as MediaTek’s gain.

From Fortune

Through his company, consumers will be able to cheaply make custom DNA strands, including what Heinz calls “creatures.”

I spent half an hour measuring all around the president to get the 27 precise measurements I needed to craft a true custom suit.

He later told CNN that eating cat was a pre-war custom across Italy.

He slept in an upright position in a custom armchair, so the reasons for his lying down to sleep are open to speculation.

Fly a Union flag when custom dictates it should be the Royal Standard?

When his lordship retired early, as was his custom, the other men adjourned once more to the billiard-room.

When Cortez made conquest of Mexico in 1519 smoking seemed to be a common as well as an ancient custom among the natives.

But for the most part even industry and endowment were powerless against the inertia of custom and the dead-weight of environment.

In 1634 he also prohibited the landing of tobacco any where except at the quay near the custom house in London.

It has long been the custom for advertisers in the continental journals to typify their wares.


Related Words

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More About Custom

What does custom mean?

As a noun, custom means a longstanding practice of a person (such as a daily habit) or a group (such as a cultural practice).

As an adjective, custom describes something made to unique specifications, especially something one of a kind. Its synonym is custom-made.

The word customs with an s refers to fees paid on imported goods, or the government department that handles such things. It is also the name of the checkpoint in the airport where incoming luggage and goods are inspected for prohibited items.

Example: When I travel abroad, it’s my custom to bring home a custom-made souvenir that highlights the artistic customs of the people who live in that place. The items are usually very unique, which often leads to a lot of questions when I go through customs at the airport!

Where does custom come from?

Custom has been in use in English since at least 1200. It comes from the Middle English custume, from the Old French costume, tracing all the way back to the Latin consuēscere, which means “to grow accustomed to” and comes from the Latin suēscere, “to be used to.”

Sociologists tend to think of customs as cultural habits that are passed down from generation to generation. A similar word is tradition. For Americans, a common Thanksgiving custom is having a large dinner, especially turkey. Customs vary from place to place based on the culture, and the word is often used in phrases like local custom and national custom. Customs can also be personal, such as getting a coffee on the way to work every day, or eating at the same restaurant every Friday. Relatedly, the word customer is based on the same root, and the regular customers of a business are sometimes referred to collectively as its custom (though this usage is uncommon).

Custom as an adjective means that something was made or prepared especially for you. A trendy way of saying this is bespoke.

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What are some other forms related to custom?

  • customs (noun)

What are some synonyms for custom?

What are some words that share a root or word element with custom



What are some words that often get used in discussing custom?


How is custom used in real life?

Custom as a noun is often used in discussion of the things that people do over and over again, typically because they enjoy them. As an adjective, it refers to something made to order.



Try using custom!

Is custom used correctly in the following sentence?

It’s my custom to sit down each night before bed and read a chapter of a book.

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