Inhabit vs habituate

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Inhabit and habituate are two words that are sometimes confused but have very different definitions. We will examine the meanings of the words inhabit and habituate, where these terms came from and some examples of their use in sentences.

Inhabit means to live in a certain place, to take up residence in a certain area. Inhabit may also mean to be present, in a poetic sense. The word inhabit is a transitive verb, which is a verb that takes an object. Related words are inhabits, inhabited, inhabiting, inhabitation. Inhabit is derived from the Old French word enhabiter which means to reside or to live in.

Habituate means to accustom a person or an animal to something. It is a verb, related words are habituates, habituated, habituating, habituation. The word habituate is derived from the Latin word habituatus which means to align into a habit. A famous example of habituation involves the work done by Dian Fossey, a pioneer in the study of the mountain gorilla. Fossey first observed mountain gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo, but primarily studied the animal at the Karisoke Research Center in Rwanda. Fossey infiltrated the gorillas’ world by habituation, which involved copying their gestures and vocalizations as she followed them through the vegetation of the forests. They became comfortable with Fossey’s presence, which is the definition of habituate. Fossey was murdered by unknown assailants in 1985.


Ringo is an Antifa bully who likes to dress up in weird clothes, search out and kill or at least beat up the lesser scum who don’t come within his/her idea of people fit to inhabit the planet. (The Siskiyou Daily News)

His ace card is his ability to inhabit pop-culture types—like the clueless bystanders on true-crime shows who say, “Something about him just didn’t sit right”—without winking through the mask. (The New Yorker Magazine)

The state’s report says “Bighorn sheep often appear to habituate fairly well to human activity.” (The Glenwood Springs Post Independent)

“One is that, over time, humans ‘habituate’ to these drugs and so one needs a higher dose over time to get the same pain relief.” (The Grand Haven Tribune)