1. The act of using; mode of using or treating; treatment; conduct with respect to a person or a thing; as, good usage; ill usage; hard usage. "My brother Is prisoner to the bishop here, at whose hands He hath good usage and great liberty." (Shak)

2. Manners; conduct; behavior. "A gentle nymph was found, Hight Astery, excelling all the crew In courteous usage." (Spenser)

3. Long-continued practice; customary mode of procedure; custom; habitual use; method. "It has now been, during many years, the grave and decorous usage of Parliaments to hear, in respectful silence, all expressions, acceptable or unacceptable, which are uttered from the throne." (Macaulay)

4. Customary use or employment, as of a word or phrase in a particular sense or signification.

5. Experience. "In eld [old age] is both wisdom and usage." (Chaucer)

Synonyms: Custom, use, habit.

Usage, Custom. These words, as here compared, agree in expressing the idea of habitual practice; but a custom is not necessarily a usage. A custom may belong to many, or to a single individual. A usage properly belongs to the great body of a people. Hence, we speak of usage, not of custom, as the law of language. Again, a custom is merely that which has been often repeated, so as to have become, in a good degree, established. A usage must be both often repeated and of long standing. Hence, we speak of a "hew custom," but not of a "new usage." Thus, also, the "customs of society" is not so strong an expression as the "usages of society." "Custom, a greater power than nature, seldom fails to make them worship." . "Of things once received and confirmed by use, long usage is a law sufficient." . In law, the words usage and custom are often used interchangeably, but the word custom also has a technical and restricted sense. See Custom.

Origin: F. Usage, LL. Usaticum. See Use.

(01 Mar 1998)

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