Definition: Custom

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From Middle English custume, borrowed from Anglo-Norman custume, from Old French coustume, from 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.


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. (law) Long-established practice, considered as unwritten law, and resting for authority on long consent. Compare prescription.
  3. Traditional beliefs or rituals.
    The Ancient Egyptian culture had many distinctive and interesting beliefs and customs; one custom was the mummification of the dead.
  4. A made-to-order piece of art, music, video, etc.

Derived terms

  • custom-built


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.

Derived terms

  • custom-made
  • custom-written


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