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False Friend: Costumbre vs. Custom and Costume

This is one of my favorite costumes: I just put on glasses and a wig, and Ryan Sitzman instantly becomes “Bryan Fitzman,” Ryan Sitzman’s Bizarro-style arch-enemy and nemesis!

Hello! It’s been a long time since we looked at a False Friend, so I wanted to talk about one that I noticed in two of my classes recently. But first, if you’re not sure what a False Friend is, check out this introductory post. Today we’ll look at the difference between costumbre in Spanish and the words “custom” and “costume” in English. Let’s take a look:

False Friend: costumbre vs. custom and costume 
This SPANISH word…
Looks like this ENGLISH word…
…but they are DIFFERENT because…
In Spanish, a costumbre is a habit or a custom. It is something that you are used to doing, or something that you do frequently.

In English, if you do something frequently, you can say it is a habit or a custom, or that you are accustomed to doing something. For example, you could say:

When she’s nervous, she has a habit of spinning her hair and biting her fingernails.”
I am accustomed to studying English at least one hour per day.”

The word “costume” in English has a completely different meaning. It’s like a disguise, or some clothing you put on so that you look like someone or something else. For example, many people wear costumes on Halloween. The equivalent Spanish word would be “disfraz.”

“Costume” can also refer to traditional clothing in a region, but this meaning is less common.

One more note: the pronunciation of “custom” and “costume” is a bit tricky for some students. If you click on each word, it’ll take you to dictionary.com, where you can hear their pronunciation.

So, I hope you make it a habit to read my blog. If you want, try reading Sitzman ABC in a Superman costume –I heard it’s 50% more interesting that way! Thanks for reading, and have a great day!
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