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, 2016 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. Oct 14, 2016 at 23:37
  • We also form habits, which is why certain activities and substances are said to be "habit-forming" ...
    – Robusto
    Oct 15, 2016 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. Oct 15, 2016 at 6:04

1 Answer 1


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.


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