Definition of customary in English:



  • 1According to the customs or usual practices associated with a particular society, place, or set of circumstances.

    ‘it is customary to mark an occasion like this with a toast’
    • ‘It is customary for participating postal administrations to pay tribute to the host region by issuing stamps celebrating local achievements.’
    • ‘It's not customary for people in the publishing industry to ask what readers (as opposed to booksellers or authors or the press) want.’
    • ‘It is customary to associate the march of reason with a rejection of ritual and ceremony.’
    • ‘As a boy going to primary school it was customary for all boys to go to the back of the school and collect any available missiles, be they pieces of wood or big stones and pelt the ripe mangoes on the neighbour's tree.’
    • ‘On February 2nd, it is customary to put a stuffed animal or something of the like in a window that faces eastward.’
    • ‘In this type of experiment, it is customary to pay the participants for their inconvenience and for agreeing to be good subjects.’
    • ‘It is customary for local associations to make decisions on such matters as membership sales and nomination deadlines, the former MLA said.’
    • ‘Snack-sized examples of the white cheese pastries are eaten in Bulgaria all year round but at new year it is customary to home-bake them full of written wishes.’
    • ‘It is customary for them to buy their own flowers but, on an occasion when no one person has responsibility, Sophie or one of the team decorate the church using money from the Flower Fund.’
    • ‘It is customary for artists to perceive themselves as the conscience of society.’
    • ‘Having left families behind in their native land, it was customary for the Chettiars to make periodic visits home to preserve family ties, and to build palatial homes.’
    • ‘It is customary to shrug off new structures when the reality is that we are afraid to replace the plethora of ones that are not working sufficiently well.’
    • ‘In Foreign Policy, as elsewhere, it is customary to rank one's assets according to cost-effectiveness.’
    • ‘It is customary to think of this as a kind of madness.’
    • ‘Also, it is customary for the president or vice-president to give a speech honoring the contributions of the dead and lay a wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier.’
    • ‘When asking a favour, it is customary to use the word ‘please’.’
    • ‘Immediately following such an exchange, it is customary for the speaker to run away at tremendous speed.’
    • ‘In many places in Britain, it was customary to light huge bonfires in the fields to ward off baneful influences, often accompanied by much partying.’
    • ‘For that reason, it is customary for governors and senators to run for president only after they have won re-election.’
    • ‘It isn't customary to clap in between movements.’
    usual, traditional, normal, conventional
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    1. 1.1attributive According to a person's habitual practice.
      ‘I put the kettle on for our customary cup of coffee’
      • ‘Until his death, on November 16th, 1272, the King continued to rule and to conduct his customary religious devotions.’
      • ‘She was drinking her customary cup of coffee, and looked up at me when I entered.’
      • ‘Later that evening in the hotel he reflected on his achievement in a more customary flippant manner.’
      • ‘Unlike the routine inaugural functions, where the chief guest makes his customary lengthy speech, the Kotwal of Hyderabad chose to be point blank in his approach.’
      • ‘Most British workers eagerly look forward to their customary summer holidays to get away from everyday working drudgery.’
      • ‘But as Semel listened and took his own counsel, the rest of the company continued to work at its customary feverish pace.’
      • ‘I had my customary blueberry bagel and coffee, but not before Irishing it up a little.’
      • ‘Tapia charged forward in his customary fashion but was constantly forced to eat up Barrera's textbook jabs.’
      • ‘He was a conscientious and considerate member of the staff of Eircom, who could always be relied upon to meet the public with his customary good humour as he went about his daily duties.’
      • ‘He races out to the front door and opens it with his now customary desperate hope.’
      • ‘The day came round and I took the train to Cardiff; we had tea at the customary 5.30 pm.’
      • ‘In Europe many people drink a cup of this herbal tea as their customary nightcap to relax them before going to bed.’
      • ‘After a training session on the beach at Filey the players also enjoyed their now customary pre-FA Cup match meal of fish and chips at the Three Tuns pub in the seaside town.’
      usual, accustomed, habitual, wonted, regular
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Law Established by or based on custom rather than common law or statute.
      • ‘As Zambia has a dual legal system, the obligation to maintain comes from both customary and statute laws.’
      • ‘Rather they seek a ruling on a pure point of law in the field of customary international law which is itself part of English common law.’
      • ‘In 1995, the government established a legal system based on English common law and customary law.’
      • ‘Sometimes, co-op members based their arguments on customary law.’
      • ‘The reality is that there is a huge bevy of precedent and law based on customary rights.’
      • ‘Although one action does not necessarily establish customary international law, it makes it more difficult the next time around.’
      • ‘And we'll never forget that it was the criminalisation of customary access to the commons which first drove Karl Marx to the study of political economy.’
      • ‘The ICC Statute codifies international customary laws in another respect as well.’
      • ‘In the current state of the world it's up to each country which has ratified the treaties, which accepts customary law, to make sure that it enforces it on its own to the largest extent possible.’
      • ‘Its work figured in the arguments of advocates in this field that were based on the developing customary law.’
      • ‘Thus, the institution of chieftaincy and its role as established by customary law, together with its councils, is important and should be maintained and guaranteed.’
      • ‘As is customary we signed a statutory declaration and paid for the insurance policy against problems.’
      • ‘Rights of access may be conferred both by the common law (e.g., under customary rights or the right to abate a nuisance) and by statute.’
      • ‘It is based upon the customary international laws of belligerent occupation, including the Hague Regulations.’
      • ‘It is based on centuries of customary international law.’
      • ‘Court cases are heard in magistrates' courts, based on Roman-Dutch law, and in chiefs' courts, based on customary law.’
      • ‘For Davies the English common law, the customary, collective reason of the English people, was the agent of both Anglicization and civilization.’
      • ‘The Court of Appeal addressed those common law customary rights, not treaty rights.’
      • ‘That provision, negotiated by New Zealand First, perverts the international common law doctrine of customary title and its application in Aotearoa.’
      • ‘At that time, there had been no legislation for customary rights equivalent to the Act of 1832 for easements or the Act of 1932 for public rights of way.’
    3. 1.3 (in South Africa) relating to black African traditional custom or law.
      • ‘The Act defines a customary marriage as one negotiated, celebrated or concluded in terms of any of the systems of indigenous African customary law in South Africa.’

nounPlural customaries

  • another term for custumal
    • ‘After the initial customaries, and reminiscing about the holiday, he proceeded to tell me about his life.’
    • ‘Things that would otherwise be impossible to say are precisely suggested by just the degree of deviation from the expected or the customary.’
    • ‘Yet all these customaries were a mere preamble.’


Late Middle English (as a noun): from medieval Latin custumarius, from custuma, from Anglo-Norman French custume (see custom).