The following is an extract from Frankenstein. What does the "habits" in "returned to my old habits" mean? It does not seem to refer to habits like drinking, staying up late, etc. If it refers to something else, how would you express the idea in current English?

Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I dabbled among the unhallowed damps of the grave, or tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay? My limbs now tremble, and my eyes swim with the remembrance; but then a resistless, and almost frantic, impulse, urged me forward; I seemed to have lost all soul or sensation but for this one pursuit. It was indeed but a passing trance, that only made me feel with renewed acuteness so soon as, the unnatural stimulus ceasing to operate, I had returned to my old habits.

  • The person who downvoted this question has no idea of why the question is worth its place here. He or she obviously hasn't bothered to read the relevant portions of the novel.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:12

1 Answer 1


"Returned to my old habits" is a perfectly valid phrase in modern English. I wouldn't call it outdated. As for the definition, it means he has resumed a habit that he used to have but has since quit. The habit is not necessarily bad, but the connotation implies that it is, because he likely wouldn't give up a good habit.

A habit is an activity that one does frequently or at regular intervals, usually at least daily. Brushing your teeth in the morning is a habit. The phrase in the excerpt basically just means he went back to doing what he used to do.

  • But in the context of the passage, no habits in the regular sense we're familiar with are mentioned.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:10
  • I don't have the book in front of me so I don't know the broader context, but the habits don't have to be explicitly mentioned in this case. What the habits are is implied to the reader because the speaker likely gave up a habit recently in the text, possibly earlier in the chapter. The reader is supposed to use context clues to figure out what "old habits" refers to, though not explicitly stated. Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:14
  • Not really. By the way, you could google the relevant sentence to find the larger context.
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:17
  • What I suspect is, "old habits" means "usual state of mind," so that "returned to my old habits" means "resumed my usual state of mind."
    – Apollyon
    Commented Jul 1, 2020 at 7:19

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .