A while back, my husband and I were wondering how habit and habitat were related. Clearly they share a root, but what’s the common idea between them? Well, we were wondering it at bedtime, so I didn’t immediately go and look it up, but eventually I remembered to. 😉
They are indeed both from the same root, along with other “habit” words like inhabit. They all come from the Latin habere, which contains both internal and external senses of “to have, hold, wear, possess; find oneself, be situated; consider, think, reason, have in mind; manage, keep.”
That’s a lot of ways to use the same word!!
Habit first made its way into English in the 1100s via French and meant “clothing; conduct.” In the next hundred years it began to be applied more strictly to the clothing of those of a religious order…but then by the 1400s expanded again to be any clothing. Around that same time we begin to see it appearing in the sense of “customary conduct.” Also at that point, it was used as a verb, interchangeable with inhabit (which also appeared in the 14th century), but also applied to the act of dressing. And of course, in the 19th century it was used for the clothing women wore when riding a horse.
It was applied to drug use in the height of the opium era, in the 1880s.
Habitat, interestingly, didn’t come along until 1762, when it was coined from the Latin root as a specific way to talk about where animals live in scientific nomenclature. This word is actually considered “modern Latin”–which is to say, it was created by English-speaking scientists writing treatises in Latin. So they based it on an old Latin word but created a new form of it to get at their particular meaning. Isn’t that fascinating?
Pretty sure my natural habitat is a library. We’ll just call me Roseannius Bibliotheca. 😉