Monday, September 9, 2013


A friend commented about the use of the phrase "as is my wont" in my BLOG article ARE YOU O.C.D.?, asking about my "strange usage" and the origin of the phrase.

Mr. Kelley, my high school history teacher, used to say "as it were" and "as is my wont" and back then, we would make fun of his usage, but I still use those phrases now, as does my brother, and as we use them, we usually remind ourselves of Mr. Kelley's continuing influence, as it were!

From one of my favorite sites Grammarphobia:

"The noun "wont" means a habit or custom, and it can be pronounced several ways: like "wahnt", or "wunt", or "woant". Here's a good illustration of its use, from an 1851 issue of Harper's Magazine: "The elegy was concluded and I was rapturizing even more vehemently than was my wont, when whack!, I received a blow on my shoulder." So, the expression "as is my wont" means as is my custom or as I usually do. Example: I get up late, as is my wont, but I managed to get to work on time."

There used to be a verb, "wont", now long obsolete, that meant to do habitually, or to make someone or something accustomed to. The verb was used in its past participle form (both "wonted" and "wont") as an adjective meaning accustom. Thus, a nineteenth-century observer might have said, "I drove my wonted carriage to the ball," or "I am wont to walk to church."

Similarly, something "unwonted" was unfamiliar or out of the ordinary.

The Chambers Dictionary Of Etymology says the adjective was developed in medieval times from an Old English verb ("wonen" or "wunen"), meaning dwell or accustomed. The noun "wont" came from the adjective."

As is my wont, I like "old-fashioned" words and phrases, and appreciate Mr. Kelley's influence.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Yes, I admit, I am the guilty one who doesn't know "as is my wont"; sometimes I swear that you and your family are from another universe--kinda like the Coneheads! ML