Printable Version
Pronunciation: wawnt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. [Adjective] Accustomed, used to; inclined, likely to behave in a certain way. 2. [Noun] A habit or habitual way of doing things. 3. [Verb] To be in the habit of, to become accustomed to or to accustom someone to something.

Notes: The Good Word today is slipping from the lingual grip of many of us, maybe because of confusion with the contraction of "will not", won't. However, this word is definitely still in circulation, though less can be said for its family. The Oxford English Dictionary has declared wontless "unaccustomed, unusual", and the adverb wontly, obsolete. We won't argue with them.

In Play: We love to bring you lexical bargains and this word is a good one: three words for the price of one. Today's Good Word is very versatile, working as an adjective, noun, or verb without any doodads or dangles added to either end: "Gladys Friday is wont to come in late" (adjective), "It is Gladys's wont to come in late" (noun), or "Gladys wonts to come in late on Mondays" (not to be confused with wants).

Word History: This word is especially good, for it is purely English—not a drop of French or Latin blood in it. In Middle English it was the past participle of wonen "to dwell, to be used to", a cousin of German wohnen and Dutch wonen "to live in, dwell". The Proto-Indo-European root was won-/wen- "to desire", and probably underlies the name Venus, the Roman goddess of love. Sanskrit vanoti "he strives for" is also a distant relation. We find the same root at the bottom of Old English wenian "to accustom", which dribbled down to Modern English as wean "to accustom a baby to eating rather than nursing".

Dr. Goodword,

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