What is the correct verb to go with "habit"?

Is it to "do a habit" or to "perform a habit" or something else?

An example of a sentence where I would want to use this verb:
"It's in general much easier to give up a bad habit completely than to try to [missing verb] it in moderation."

  • 1
    Indulge, perhaps? – Mick Oct 14 '16 at 21:26
  • See Not so fast! "It's in general much easier to give up a bad habit completely than to try to persist in it in moderation." "Persist in a habit" is by far the most idiomatic in English. – P. E. Dant Oct 14 '16 at 23:37
  • We also form habits, which is why certain activities and substances are said to be "habit-forming" ... – Robusto Oct 15 '16 at 1:40
  • @Robusto Yes, but in this context the OP would not say "...than to try to forming it in moderation." The idiomatic verb is persist in. – P. E. Dant Oct 15 '16 at 6:04

The most general verb to use with habit is have, "He has a lot of bad habits." Because it's so general, however, you can substitute in a variety of other verbs for varied effect. Consider these quotes:

The truth is that everyone is bored, and devotes himself to cultivating habits. ― Albert Camus

A man who can't bear to share his habits is a man who needs to quit them. ― Stephen King

Statistics show that of those who contract the habit of eating, very few survive. ― George Bernard Shaw

I wanted to be a brain surgeon, but I had a bad habit of dropping things. ― Gilbert Gottfried

One has to grow up with good talk in order to form the habit of it. ― Helen Hayes

And many more. In your example, much depends on whether you're going for humor, advice, observation, or something else. Some possibilities: practice, express, indulge, nurse, embrace, etc.

If you get rid of the "in moderation" then you can simply moderate a habit, or manage, repress, conceal, keep, nurture, etc.

  • We "persist in habits." – P. E. Dant Oct 14 '16 at 23:59

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.