Definition of customary in US 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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It isn't customary to clap in between movements.’
    • ‘In this type of experiment, it is customary to pay the participants for their inconvenience and for agreeing to be good subjects.’
    • ‘It's not customary for people in the publishing industry to ask what readers (as opposed to booksellers or authors or the press) want.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘It is customary to associate the march of reason with a rejection of ritual and ceremony.’
    • ‘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 artists to perceive themselves as the conscience of society.’
    • ‘For that reason, it is customary for governors and senators to run for president only after they have won re-election.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘On February 2nd, it is customary to put a stuffed animal or something of the like in a window that faces eastward.’
    • ‘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 local associations to make decisions on such matters as membership sales and nomination deadlines, the former MLA said.’
    • ‘It is customary for participating postal administrations to pay tribute to the host region by issuing stamps celebrating local achievements.’
    • ‘It is customary to think of this as a kind of madness.’
    • ‘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 Foreign Policy, as elsewhere, it is customary to rank one's assets according to cost-effectiveness.’
    usual, traditional, normal, conventional
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 According to a person's habitual practice.
      ‘I put the kettle on for our customary cup of tea’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Most British workers eagerly look forward to their customary summer holidays to get away from everyday working drudgery.’
      • ‘He races out to the front door and opens it with his now customary desperate hope.’
      • ‘Until his death, on November 16th, 1272, the King continued to rule and to conduct his customary religious devotions.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Tapia charged forward in his customary fashion but was constantly forced to eat up Barrera's textbook jabs.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘I had my customary blueberry bagel and coffee, but not before Irishing it up a little.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But as Semel listened and took his own counsel, the rest of the company continued to work at its customary feverish pace.’
      usual, accustomed, habitual, wonted, regular
      View synonyms
    2. 1.2Law Established by or based on custom rather than common law or statute.
      • ‘Sometimes, co-op members based their arguments on customary law.’
      • ‘Court cases are heard in magistrates' courts, based on Roman-Dutch law, and in chiefs' courts, based on customary law.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘In 1995, the government established a legal system based on English common law and customary law.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Its work figured in the arguments of advocates in this field that were based on the developing customary law.’
      • ‘The ICC Statute codifies international customary laws in another respect as well.’
      • ‘That provision, negotiated by New Zealand First, perverts the international common law doctrine of customary title and its application in Aotearoa.’
      • ‘The reality is that there is a huge bevy of precedent and law based on customary rights.’
      • ‘The Court of Appeal addressed those common law customary rights, not treaty rights.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As Zambia has a dual legal system, the obligation to maintain comes from both customary and statute laws.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘As is customary we signed a statutory declaration and paid for the insurance policy against problems.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘It is based upon the customary international laws of belligerent occupation, including the Hague Regulations.’
      • ‘It is based on centuries of customary international law.’
      • ‘For Davies the English common law, the customary, collective reason of the English people, was the agent of both Anglicization and civilization.’
      • ‘Although one action does not necessarily establish customary international law, it makes it more difficult the next time around.’


  • another term for custumal
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘After the initial customaries, and reminiscing about the holiday, he proceeded to tell me about his life.’


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