As is my wont…

As is my wont, when I thought about an unusual word or phrase – in this case it was wont – I began to investigate where it came from and what it actually means. I guess it means habit or custom, so ‘as is my wont’ = ‘as I am accustomed to do’. Am I right?

Yes, I am right, but I’ve found out that it can be used as an adjective – I was wont to stay up late and way past my bedtime, or a noun – it was my wont to watch police movies when I should be in bed. It can also be used as a verb – which I don’t think I have ever come across before – this night owl habit wonted me to a nocturnal lifestyle. I didn’t ever totally grasp transitive and intransitive verbs – although if I really think hard I can work it out and explain it; the last sentence used ‘wont’ as a transitive verb (there’s also wont meaning to render or give up) but an intransitive use would be ‘I am wont to have late nights’. Is that clear? … probably not!

It’s an Old English word as you might guess, coming to us via Middle English and with similar words appearing in other Germanic languages Originally it meant more to be happy about something, to be pleased or comfortable with something and I can see you would have to be if something became your wont or was your wont!.

A tricky thing about the word is that it sounds very like ‘want‘ and could be mistaken for ‘won’t‘;.. Do young people still use it? I must enquire.

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