The Origin of Habit

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Why should you be interested in the origin of the word habit? Because I believe that the language we use creates the reality we live in and by examining history we can better understand the components of a concept or an idea. In the case of habits I will show some important key elements of the concept. E.g. emotion is a core concept of habits; emotions are essential to the existence of a habit.

It is both rewarding and interesting to study history to understand better and I have made some research on the word “habit”. I have tracked the word back to the Indo-European word “ghabh” meaning to grab or to take. Indo-European is the language family most European languages come from and English follows a branch of the family consisting of Germanic, West Germanic, Anglo-Frisian and Anglic.

“Habit” comes from Indo-European but it did not develop into the Germanic branch of languages; it was adopted from French monks about year 1300. The synonym “wonts” is not used much anymore but that is the original word for the meaning “habit” has today.

“Wonts” comes from the Indo-European word “wen-“ that means love, want or win. If you study the words that come from “wen-“ you will discover that they all have emotions in common. They express something that we have a strong feeling for; something we love or something we have a strong desire to own.

Thus, a habit is connected to words like love, want, take and win. They are all strong words that express emotion, desire, action and vision. Most of the models and tools that are developed to assist you getting success in life encompass desire, action and vision, but very often they miss out emotions.

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