PIE word
PIE word

From Middle English custume, borrowed from Anglo-Norman custume, from Old French coustume, from a Vulgar Latin *cōnsuētūmen or *costūmen, from Latin cōnsuētūdinem, accusative singular of cōnsuētūdō (custom, habit), from cōnsuēscō (accustom, habituate), from con- (with) + suēscō (become used or accustomed to). First element con- derives from cum, from Old Latin com, from Proto-Italic *kom, from Proto-Indo-European *ḱóm (with, along). Second element suēscō is from Proto-Indo-European *swe-dʰh₁-sk-, from *swé (self) + *dʰeh₁- (to put, place, set); related to Latin suus (one's own, his own). Displaced native Middle English wune, wone (custom, habit, practice) (from Old English wuna (custom, habit, practice, rite)), Middle English side, sid (custom) (from Old English sidu, sido (custom, note, manner)), Middle English cure (custom, choice, preference) (from Old English cyre (choice, choosing, free will)). Doublet of costume and consuetude.

Adjective form circa 1830.


  • IPA(key): /ˈkʌstəm/
  • (file)


custom (countable and uncountable, plural customs)

  1. Frequent repetition of the same behavior; way of behavior common to many; ordinary manner; habitual practice; method of doing, living or behaving.
  2. (UK) Habitual buying of goods; practice of frequenting, as a shop, factory, etc., for making purchases or giving orders; business support.
    • September 28, 1710, Joseph Addison, The Whig Examiner No. 3
      Let him have your custom, but not your votes.
  3. (law) Long-established practice, considered as unwritten law, and resting for authority on long consent. Compare prescription.
    Synonym: usage
    • 1888, Wharton, Francis, A Commentary on the Law of Evidence in Civil Issues, volume 2, third edition, page 188:
      The distinction between custom and usage it that usage is a fact and custom is a law. There can be usage without custom, but not custom without usage.
  4. Traditional beliefs or rituals.
    The Ancient Egyptian culture had many distinctive and interesting beliefs and customs; one custom was the mummification of the dead.
  5. A custom (made-to-order) piece of art, pornography, etc.
    • 2019 May 31, Abella Art & Design, tweet:
      The rest of the necklace holders finally came in! If you bought a custom from me thank you so much for your patience! I’m gonna try my best to crank them out as fast as possible
    • 2020 July 28, "Paying for porn: How much is appropriate?", in Slate Magazine:
      Oftentimes I have trouble finding enough women to buy customs from. Strangely enough, finding women to take hundreds of dollars for a selfie isn’t as easy as you’d think.
  6. (obsolete) Familiar acquaintance; familiarity.
  7. (archaic, uncountable) Toll, tax, or tribute.
    • 1769, Bible, Authorised King James Version, Oxford standard text, Romans, xiii, 7:
      Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.


Derived termsEdit



custom (not comparable)

  1. Created under particular specifications, specially to fit one's needs: specialized, unique, custom-made.
    My feet are very large, so I need custom shoes.
  2. Own, personal, not standard or premade.
    We can embroider a wide range of ready designs or a custom logo.
  3. (archaic) Accustomed; usual.

Derived termsEdit

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custom (third-person singular simple present customs, present participle customing, simple past and past participle customed)

  1. (transitive, obsolete) To make familiar; to accustom.
    • a. 1771 (written, published posthumously) Thomas Gray, Agrippina
      Have not forgot your sire; the eye of Rome
      And the Prætorian camp have long revered,
      With customed awe the daughter, sister, wife,
      And mother of their Cæsars
  2. (transitive, obsolete) To supply with customers.
  3. (transitive, obsolete) To pay the customs of.
  4. (intransitive, obsolete) To have a custom.

Related termsEdit

Further readingEdit