Wednesday, September 23, 2015
Cynthia asked about the varied meanings of the word habit. Ultimately, it came from a Latin verb that meant to have.
There was a bifurcation of the base word in ancient Latin. One branch focused on the external features of having and exhibiting: posture, demeanor, clothing, etc. The other branch focused on internal elements: character, mentality, disposition, etc.
In English, habit meant apparel in 1225. Later in that century, it came to be the word of choice for religious garb. By the 15th century, it had transferred to deportment. One’s mental and emotional components also came to the fore. By the next century, it meant a settled practice, a customary way of acting. In our day, it has come to mean an addiction. “Do you have a habit?” is a very serious question, but historically, it could be rendered as “do you have a have?”
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