WONT as described by ProWritingAid

There are a ton of strange homonyms in the English language, words that sound the same, but with very different meanings. Sometimes those differences can get you in deep trouble, because the meaning of the sound may be quite the opposite in your head and the speaker gets misunderstood in the confusion.

One of the words that is confusing to me is the adjective WONT. Although the word is pronounced like want and looks like the contraction of will not (won’t), the meaning is quite different.

According to Merriam Webster [1] the word WONT is one’s customary behavior in a particular situation. In the example above, if Mary is buying two brownies from the bakery, she typically would eat both of them. Sounds simple enough.

The term gets more sinister, however, if it is applied to someone’s weak personal habits. One that I have heard about students in the classroom: “Constance, as she was wont, had paid little attention to the instructions and did not hear what she was supposed to do.” The customary behavior can also be positive, of course, as in “He was want to arise at 5:30 every morning to get an early start on the day ahead,” but often enough it seems to have that darker underbelly of laziness and laissez faire behavior.

The confusion gets even more tricky with the habits of students to avoid or forget the apostrophe. In writing, the apostrophe is often missing these days. Without that small article, however, (will, will not, won’t, wont), the meaning of a word or sentence is complete different.

Wont, the adjective

Teachers out there, keep stressing your students for clarity. Perhaps your students are not lazy, just ignorant. The need for the apostrophe may not seem obvious to students who have never heard of the word WONT in the first place. Their listeners and readers will applaud you later.

[1] https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/wont