Habit vs habitat

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Habit and habitat are two words that are close in spelling and pronunciation and are sometimes confused. Though they have similar roots, these words have very different meanings. We will examine the definitions of the words habit and habitat, where these two words came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

A habit is a customary behavior that one engages in, an acquired practice that amounts to a tendency to do something in a certain fashion, or to engage in a certain and usual behavior when a triggering event happens. People rarely speak about good habits, such as taking the keys out the car ignition when departing the vehicle or brushing one’s teeth after every meal. Many books have been written concerning bad habits and how to break them. It is difficult to kick a bad habit, no matter how undesirable the behavior is for the individual. Breaking bad habits such as smoking seem impossible, but with conscious willpower, repetition and reward, it can be done. The word habit is also used to describe the outfit that one wears when riding a horse, or a riding habit, as well as the clothes that  Roman Catholic nuns wear. The word habit is derived from the Latin habere meaning to have or to hold.

A habitat is the natural environment of a living being, it is the natural home of a plant or animal. In order to survive, wildlife must live in an area that is sustainable and has a sound ecosystem. Wildlife conservation workers and volunteers strive to provide a place where biodiversity may flourish, for plants and animals. Every insect, fish, species of plants and animal species is worth protecting. A biologist studies many different types of habitats, including temperate forest, tundra, marshes, coral reef, prairie, desert, rainforest, grassland, wetlands and even the Arctic. A large concern among people who study ecology is habitat destruction. Conservancy involves working to be sure that natural habitats are protected, for predator and prey. Destruction to habitat often triggers the rise of invasive species, which threaten the survival of native species and may even cause them to become extinct. Fish and wildlife departments across the globe work to restore and preserve wildlife habitat in the landscape. Marine protected areas help to mitigate habitat loss. Surprisingly, hunting can be a part of managing habitat, as it may keep the population of ruminating animals in check. Restoration and protection of habitat sometimes comes into conflict with those who wish to exploit natural resources such as oil and coal, or those who wish to practice industrial agriculture. However, our survival probably depends on our ability to conserve our ecological diversity. The word habitat was coined in the late 1700s, and is derived from the Latin word habere meaning to hold or have.


Duhigg offers that MIT researchers discovered a simple neurological loop at the core of every habit, a loop that consists of three parts: a cue, a routine and a reward. (Forbes)

Reading consistently as the semester starts makes it less of a drag when your first reading assignments roll in for the semester, and it becomes more of a habit rather than a task when you read regularly. (The Collegiate Times)

Would he ask a nun to remove her habit should she visit his constituency office? (The Independent)

Former President Jimmy Carter and comedian David Letterman have helped launch a Habitat for Humanity building blitz in northern Indiana. (The Washington Post)

On Friday, August 17, nine rescued sea turtles representing four species were returned to their natural habitat in the Gulf of Mexico by the Texas State Aquarium’s Wildlife Rescue Center. (The Alice Echo News Journal)