I saw that word in an article more than once. When I saw it for the first time, I thought it might be "inhabitation", but the repeating of that word convinced me that it was not a mistake. I could not find it in any dictionary. Is there a meaning of "enhabitation" or can it be some kind of term?

Through a process of routine-formation, remembering occurs without conscious awarenes. This process might be called enhabiation: 'thoughts reactions and symbols become turned into routine habits and, thus, they become enhabited' (Billig 1995:42)

"Reproducing the Nation: Banal Nationalism in the Turkish Press", Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 22: 787-804.

The article: "Reproducing the Nation: Banal Nationalism in the Turkish Press", Media, Culture & Society, Vol. 22: 787-804.

  • Please provide a clear citation of the source. Ideally a link to the original. If a link is not possible then provide lots of context. As you note this is "not in the dictionary" which means that it is a not a standard part of English. It is probably an old form of inhabitation but we can't say for certain without the citation and the context.
    – James K
    Oct 26, 2019 at 22:26
  • I think we can answer this in a way that is helpful for learning English, not just as a substitute for a dictionary. I'll give it a try right now.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 26, 2019 at 22:51
  • Thanks for your interests. I added a photo of the paragraph in which the word was used three times and waiting for your answers. Thank you. Oct 26, 2019 at 22:59
  • @BenKovitz No you couldn't You needed to find the source. You searched on google books, which is great. But this question needed a source. I thank the OP for providing one.
    – James K
    Oct 27, 2019 at 6:35

3 Answers 3


A search on Google Books* reveals that enhabitation is a word coined by the sociologist Michael Billig.

Here are the thoughts that go through my mind as a fluent speaker when I see this new and unfamiliar word. (I wrote this before the paragraph with the context was added to the question. That paragraph removes the need to guess, but I think it helps a lot to see how a fluent speaker makes an educated guess about a new word.)

  1. Is it a mistake for "inhabitation"? If it's deliberate, then someone probably invented it by drawing upon classical roots,* as is usual when making technical terminology. So, it's probably an obscure technical term.

  2. The prefixes in- and en- both come from Latin in. En- is the French version, as in entrench, enfeeble, enable, etc. In English, we often choose en- instead of in- when coining a new word to mean "become" or "make" instead of "be inside". Or, it could be an obsolete French spelling.

  3. The word habitus has previously been brought from Latin, where it means mode of dress as well as habit or the general condition of something (as in "a nun's habit"), into English scientific terminology, to mean things like an organism's overall way of life, a person's typical stance or demeanor, the common traits or beliefs or behaviors of a social group, and similar things.

If the context is sociology, I would guess that enhabitation is the process of acquiring the attitudes, manner of dress, etc. of a social group, by participation in life among that social group, so that they become unconscious, effortless, and feel like being yourself rather than a deliberate act or choice. The word could also mean the result of that process, as often happens with -tion words.

Indeed it appears that Billig coined the verb enhabit for the process of picking up a society's habitus. Most likely he means something more specific than the general guess that the roots suggest.

There are two lessons here for someone learning English:

  1. If you can recognize roots of the word, like habit, look at their etymologies. Etymologies often provide clues to how people will draw upon the older, stabler meanings of roots to coin new words. Wiktionary makes this easy, since you can just follow the links to the classical root words, and from there follow the links to the English words that derive from them.

  2. Google Books is one of the best places to search to see how a word or phrase is actually used, especially in formal writing. Real usage goes far beyond what dictionaries can document, of course.

* That is, words from Latin and Ancient Greek.

  • +many! Note that Billig is cited in the passage OP added. Oct 26, 2019 at 23:14
  • @StoneyB Aww, that takes the sport out of it. ;) I just added a note to clarify that the passage makes the guesswork unnecessary.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 26, 2019 at 23:22
  • @BenKovitz What does "takes the sport out of it" mean?
    – dan
    Oct 28, 2019 at 22:12
  • 1
    @dan I only meant it as a joke, but it means to make it so easy that it's no longer "sporting"—that is, difficult enough to present a challenge, as if figuring out the meaning of "enhabitation" were a sport where we want to make a "fair" contest against the word's attempt to keep its meaning unknown. More examples on Google Books.
    – Ben Kovitz
    Oct 28, 2019 at 22:30

The author makes it clear (might be called) that this is a fairly novel term. Its meaning and source are provided right in the passage you quote:

Through a process of routine-formation, remembering occurs without conscious awareness.

"Thoughts, reactions, and symbols become turned into routine habits and, thus, they become enhabited' (BIllig, 1995:42).

The prefix en- is often employed in a causative or motive sense: cause something to 'enter' a particular state. Compare enclose, endanger, encode.


The word Enhabit has the same meaning as Inhabit. Just that it is an obsolete form of the word Inhabit.It is a verb and French word borrowed from the French word "Enhabiter" which is equally obsolete.

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