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Q: Can you clarify the meaning (and origin) of the phrase “as is my wont”?

A: The noun “wont” means habit or custom, and it can be pronounced in several ways – like “wahnt” or “wunt” or “woant.”

Here’s a good illustration of its use, from an 1851 issue of Harper’s Magazine: “The Elegy was concluded, and I was rapturizing even more vehemently than was my wont, when, whack! I received a blow on my shoulder.”

So, the expression “as is my wont” means as is my custom or as I usually do. Example: “I got up late, as is my wont, but I managed to get to class on time.”

There used to be a verb “wont,” now long obsolete, that meant to do habitually, or to make someone or something accustomed to.

This verb was used in its past-participle forms (both “wonted” and “wont”) as an adjective meaning accustomed. Thus, a 19th-century observer might have said, “I drove my wonted carriage to the ball,” or “I am wont to walk to church.”

Similarly, something “unwonted” was unfamiliar or out of the ordinary.

The Chambers Dictionary of Etymology says the adjective “wont” developed in medieval times from an Old English verb (wonen or wunen) meaning dwell or be accustomed. The noun “wont” came from the adjective.

Now, as is my wont, I’d better get to the next question in my in-box.

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