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Wont

The word wont, not to be confused with want or the contraction won’t, has several meanings, but it is most often an adjective, usually followed by to, meaning accustomed, given, or likely—for example:

“Stats are for losers,” as head coach John Fox is wont to say. [Panthers.com]

It made me introspective, as talks with Kris are wont to do. [Chiron Training]

Wont is also a noun, its definition being habit or accustomed behavior—for example:

Kerry, as is his wont, offered a turbid synonym. [Emory Wheel]

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And the participial wonted has another adjectival sense—usual or habitual:

Sofiane Sylve lent the sugar plum fairy the wonted regality and line without completely dispensing a generosity of spirit. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Dictionaries list a verb sense of wont—to make accustomed to—but the word is very rarely used in this sense in modern English.

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Comments

  1. Warwick Stubbs says:

    Many thanks for this! I always noticed that ‘wont’ got through the spellcheck, but I didn’t realise that it wasn’t the same as ‘won’t’. I was one who thought this word was ‘want’.

  2. A lot of these unused words in the English language need to be phased out.

    • adrian quixotry says:

      It appears that you consider ‘wont’, as an example, as unused, which is to say that you and those you associate with don’t use it or see it in print and you have somehow arrived at a consensus that it is not used by anyone thus ‘unused’. I hear it said enough to say (assure you?) that it is ‘used’ but then I have lived in and around British educated types for a long time so perhaps ‘wont’ is found more in Brit speak vs North American English. Regardless of (Notwithstanding?) cultural differences, it seems to me that using ‘less used’ words/phrases and even reintroducing older words/phrases is a way to keep language fresh and nuanced while adding to the richness of our exchanges. Not that complicating language is the aim (don’t use ten words if one will do … unless you just feel like it) but even where meaning is the same between two words the historic value of one (say, ‘wont’) can shift the feel of the statement. Example, while I don’t use whilst I find it interesting and sometimes charming … it can indicate that the person is British, British educated or simply prefers/enjoys the sound of ‘whilst’ vs being affected (‘while’ is actually the older form but retained over the centuries in Canada and USA). Anyhoo, just sayin’, dude/tte

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