Definition of custom in English:



  • 1A traditional and widely accepted way of behaving or doing something that is specific to a particular society, place, or time.

    ‘the old English custom of dancing round the maypole’
    mass noun ‘custom demanded that a person should have gifts for the child’
    • ‘The age old customs and traditions of the Tamils are held in high esteem by Keralites and they are preserved in modern Kerala.’
    • ‘Cigarettes are demanded by consumers and form part of the social custom of many societies.’
    • ‘Deeply religious, she greatly valued the old customs and traditions.’
    • ‘In this new environment Achill customs and traditions were practised and even developed.’
    • ‘This custom was traditionally observed at Whitsun but it has no link with the Restoration and was moved from its traditional Whitsun date as an expression of loyalty.’
    • ‘They were a very special kind of people who participated in, and kept alive our grand old Irish customs and tradition.’
    • ‘People are affected with their customs, traditions, religions and social demeanor.’
    • ‘She was among the most senior citizens in the Williamstown region and had a wealth of knowledge in relation to old customs, traditions and old times.’
    • ‘Their traditions and customs have not been widely spread nor preserved.’
    • ‘His society considers the funeral custom of body viewing personal or dependent on the conscientious feelings of the individual.’
    • ‘Ancient customs practiced in a traditional society are serious business to the locals.’
    • ‘We lost a lot of traditions, we lost customs, religion and culture, which still now brings social problems and terrible unemployment.’
    • ‘Marriage is a festive affair, involving many old customs and traditions.’
    • ‘Many ethnic groups had carried into Islam their own social customs, military traditions and administrative rules.’
    • ‘Despite legal prohibition, sexual exploitation of girls in the form of traditional and religious customs such as deuki still exist in Nepal.’
    • ‘I particularly enjoyed the depiction of old military traditions and customs.’
    • ‘First, the nature of an Aboriginal claim must be identified precisely with regard to particular practices, customs and traditions.’
    • ‘The film-makers aim to show that despite growing up in England, young Asians still respect traditions and customs of their parent's homeland.’
    • ‘He also had a fine recall of times gone by and the old ways, customs and traditions.’
    • ‘All that have specific traditions and customs, folklore, cuisine, and dress and may speak a different language.’
    tradition, practice, usage, observance, way, convention, procedure, ceremony, ritual, ordinance, form, formality, fashion, mode, manner
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    1. 1.1in singular A thing that one does habitually.
      ‘it is our custom to visit the Lake District in October’
      • ‘As is the custom with visiting luminaries, he was asked to give advice about other problematic patients.’
      • ‘He knew that if he visited friends, they would feed him as was the custom.’
      • ‘I followed through with my regular custom of staying away from election coverage until about 8 pm.’
      • ‘I learned there that having the governess as part of the family was not a normal Letzenstein custom.’
      • ‘It wasn't the normal custom within Ryder, and it shook things up right away.’
      • ‘That, and the fact that her SAC compartment was separated from everyone else's as was the custom for dignitaries visiting aboard a star cruiser.’
      • ‘On the second day of the Lunar New Year, it is the custom for married daughters to visit their parents.’
      • ‘Habitual consumption of either (it is not the custom to take both in any given day) says much about an individual's background and daily life.’
      • ‘These net deficits are easily offset by the increased custom among those who visit just once a week, the survey's authors say.’
      habit, practice, routine, way, wont
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    2. 1.2Law Established usage having the force of law or right.
      • ‘The extent to which the carrier has to undertake the loading of the vessel may depend not only upon different systems of law but upon the custom and practice of the port and the nature of the cargo.’
      • ‘It refers to lands owned by natives under their customs or usages.’
      • ‘Moreover, it is often difficult to determine whether or not a new custom has crystallized into international law, and, if so, at what point.’
      • ‘The International Tribunal shall have the power to prosecute persons violating the laws or customs of war.’
      • ‘Unwritten or implied agreements and customs can also be effective.’
      • ‘Of course in time the laws and customs of any people will change and the rights and interests of the members of the people among themselves will change too.’
      • ‘It is a recognition for the native title right to possess which can only be exercised in accordance with currently acknowledged laws and customs.’
      • ‘Thus, since 1977, at the latest, English customs rules are Community customs rules.’
      • ‘Established custom, normative precedent, conduct, and cumulative tradition, is typically based on Muhammad's example.’
      • ‘However, does it not require legislation to outlaw the custom of people parking in spaces reserved for disabled people?’
      • ‘The common law is practical; it is developed from the customs of the people, and I doubt if it can survive if it gets away from the customs of the people.’
      • ‘It also provided them with various common rights and established customs and practices which they used to structure their day, to appropriate goods and to eke out a living.’
      • ‘Indeed, many collective agreements, particularly at local level, are simply a distillation of established custom and practice.’
      • ‘Laws against adultery are a natural outgrowth of laws and customs insisting that marriages be monogamous.’
      • ‘The Board shall make its decision with regard to the custom and usage of the insurance and reinsurance business.’
      • ‘It is hard to argue that one act creates customary law when the classical concept of custom comes from long usage and recognized scholarly comment.’
      • ‘But by long established custom, such exculpatory statements are also admitted into evidence.’
      • ‘The law was formed more by customs arising from litigation governed by formularies in notarial act books.’
      • ‘They must have that connection by the laws and customs.’
      • ‘This rule does not apply if it can be established that a custom or usage is applicable to each permitting marriage between the two.’
  • 2British mass noun Regular dealings with a shop or business by customers.

    ‘if you keep me waiting, I will take my custom elsewhere’
    • ‘Customers and potential customers will be lost to the plaintiff if they transfer their custom to the defendant in the belief that they are dealing with the plaintiff.’
    • ‘It could also aim its marketing effort at attracting custom from groups beyond its current age income groups, for example by targeting children with organically produced snacks.’
    • ‘However, if it is to attract local custom, it will have to rethink its strategy.’
    • ‘The idea of the Windows-free promo is to attract tech - savvy custom at a time when consumer PC sales are flatter than a flat pancake.’
    • ‘He said one of the main aims would be to make better use of facilities such as the car park which, he said, was not attracting enough custom, despite its high quality.’
    • ‘Companies desperate for custom are now offering larger sums to tempt consumers.’
    • ‘Those that survive have increased the range of goods and services to attract custom - a wide range of magazines or even photocopying services.’
    • ‘Those that cater for the under-18s with a family room away from the bar, or which open earlier as a coffee shop, will attract more custom.’
    • ‘Interest aroused during such visits often leads to regular custom.’
    • ‘Casinos survive on domestic custom but solicit extra business from overseas, particularly at the high-roller end of the market.’
    • ‘He says the growth in demand has paved the way for less legitimate businesses to snap up custom.’
    • ‘Last week, Owner Paul Reynolds tried to attract extra custom while Sainsbury's supermarket was closed and hopes to build on his success over the coming months.’
    • ‘Organisers hope to attract custom from retail parks in Chelmsford and Colchester.’
    • ‘The research by Eagle Star Business Direct shows that, rather than living for and loving their business, it is the worry of losing valuable custom that keeps small business owners tied to their work.’
    • ‘Good to hear that the drive to stock a better class of lager, aka ‘fancy foreign muck’, at Helperby's Half Moon Inn is attracting plenty of custom.’
    • ‘It added that they helped regeneration, keeping schools open and providing custom to shops.’
    • ‘Management at The Riverside Hotel, Sligo remain vigilant in securing trade or group tour business and Irish custom has compensated any tourist loss.’
    • ‘If their business depends on custom, their customers will access their establishment more easily.’
    • ‘Instead, banks offer gifts such as plasma televisions to attract custom.’
    • ‘Collectively though, these blue chip stalwarts with their predictable, regular custom should not disappoint at current prices.’
    business, patronage, trade, support
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North American
  • attributive Made or done to order; custom-made.

    ‘a custom guitar’
    • ‘You could for example, order your maraschinos in custom colors and flavors.’
    • ‘Since construction sites do not have the equipment to bend or cut re-bar, Ferneuf always fills custom orders.’
    • ‘Bax made one of his custom guitars for Johnny with a pocket on the back, in which a copy of the script has been placed.’
    • ‘According to Dean, the Motor Store's Dundalk outlet can fit customer cars with a custom exhaust to order.’
    • ‘Some rainwear makers have a special order department for custom sizes.’
    • ‘If you want your boots to be unique and personalized, you can get in touch with West Coast Shoe Company or Dayton Shoe Company to order custom motorcycle boots.’
    • ‘The material is available in 20 different colors that are fade and weather resistant, or they will make you a custom color by special order.’
    • ‘Now they reach consumers via the Internet, and take custom orders from companies and government agencies.’
    • ‘Since custom cabinets can be ordered in any size you want, the sizing issue may point you in one direction over the other.’
    • ‘Now she makes many styles, and handles custom orders.’
    • ‘This means that farmers and the test of the industry will be able to order custom sugar beet varieties selected for the genes they contain.’
    • ‘Should a customer make a large order for custom machines, IBM or HP's services organizations will rush to make the deal go through.’
    • ‘Meanwhile, he sees a tremendous amount of custom framing from these orders alone.’
    • ‘When I ordered a custom item a couple weeks ago, I noticed that Lowes' internal systems are all tied into open source programs.’
    • ‘For the truly self-indulgent, Viva Brasil in Genoa Nervi makes custom bikinis to order.’
    • ‘This was one of many custom Fender guitars given to him by Leo Fender himself.’
    • ‘They can even be ordered with custom artwork and etching on the case.’
    • ‘My wife has also ordered custom dresses from the same woman.’
    • ‘As people become more attuned to ordering custom vehicles, we feel this trend will grow.’
    • ‘Lee creates one-of-a-kind designs and custom orders to fit any shape and size of both men and women.’


Middle English: from Old French coustume, based on Latin consuetudo, from consuetus, past participle of consuescere ‘accustom’, from con- (expressing intensive force) + suescere ‘become accustomed’.