Habit (false friend)

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The French word habit means 'a suit [of clothes]', 'a costume', 'a person's dress'. (This is an occasional meaning for 'habit' in English, as in a 'riding habit', "[a] dress worn by ladies on horseback; a lady's riding-dress" (OED, 1898) and 'taking the habit', meaning 'joining a Religious order' (and signalling it by wearing the usual clothes of the order).

  • Although the French occasionally use 'habit' in the dominant English sense ("[a] settled disposition or tendency to act in a certain way, esp[ecially] one acquired by frequent repetition of the same act until it becomes almost or quite involuntary; a settled practice, custom, usage; a customary way or manner of acting" (ibid), this meaning is better expressed in French by habitude.