a. A traditional practice or usual way of doing something followed by a social group or people.
b. The tradition or body of such practices: The respect that is by custom accorded to the king.
a. A habitual practice of a person: my custom of reading a little before sleep. See Synonyms at habit.
b. Habitual manner or practice: I am not by custom a coffee drinker.
3. Law A common tradition or usage so long established that it has the force or validity of law.
4. Habitual patronage, as of a store: tried to obtain the custom of the wealthiest shoppers.
a. Duties or taxes imposed on imported and, less commonly, exported goods.
b. (used with a sing. verb) The governmental agency authorized to collect these duties.
c. (used with a sing. verb) The place where goods and baggage entering a country are inspected by this agency: go through customs.
6. Tribute, service, or rent paid by a feudal tenant to a lord.
1. Made to order: custom suits.
2. Specializing in the making or selling of made-to-order goods: a custom tailor.
[Middle English custume, from Old French costume, from Vulgar Latin *cōnstūm(i)n-, alteration of Latin cōnsuētūdin-, oblique stem of cōnsuētūdō, custom, from cōnsuētus, past participle of cōnsuēscere, to accustom : com-, intensive prefix; see COM- + suēscere, to become accustomed; see s(w)e- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.