Custom vs costume

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Custom and costume are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation, and are often confused. We will examine the definitions of the words custom and costume, where these words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Custom may mean a traditional way of doing something or the usual way one behaves in a particular society. Custom may also mean something one does in a habitual way. Custom is sometimes used as an adjective in American English in order to describe something that is made according to the patron’s specifications or measurements. The word custom is derived from the Latin word consuetudo, meaning usage, habit, tradition.

A costume is an outfit one may wear as a character in a play or film or as set of historical clothing one wears in order to perform traditional rituals or to reenact historical times. Costume is used as a noun or a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are costumes, costumed, costuming. Interestingly, the word costume is also derived from the Latin word consuetudo.


Blayde became one of the first Memphis-area residents to benefit from custom-made knee implants crafted with the help of 3D-printing technology. (U.S. News & World Report)

Under local custom, single girls and women in some ethnic groups here are expected to offer sex to village men and passing strangers. (The Los Angeles Times)

Costume designer Salvador Perez, who has been part of the crew since the first film, was once again tasked with bringing out the bling. (The Hollywood Reporter)

Host Paul Maher promises a night full of fun, fashion, free prizes, and fabulous food and is asking revellers to dress either in their flashy finest, or in an historical costume from anytime since 1833, when the property first began. (The Hawkesbury Gazette)