16

Example in Usage:

July 20, 1890. Consulted by Mrs., 50, spare habit, dark hair and eyes, nervous temperament, neurotic family history;...

3
  • 20
    Presumably, it isn't a nun's extra change of clothing. :)
    – Lawrence
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 11:11
  • In older Danish, Habit is a suit
    – mplungjan
    Commented May 15, 2017 at 13:17
  • It means a bit skinny
    – Strawberry
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 8:40

3 Answers 3

24

Spare habit here means thin body.

A DICTIONARY OF ENGLISH PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS - Francis Garden - 1878

In physical and medical science, the word is used in its original largeness of meaning, i. e. not as confined to action, but as embracing states, modes of being, and we are accordingly familiar with the phrases "habit of body," "a full" or "a spare habit."

So habit can be used to refer to the body. For further clarification, we can consult:

HABIT IN THE ENGLISH NOVEL, 1850-1900: Lived Environments, Practices of the Self.

Outward form or general appearance is a 'habit'... I may be of a spare habit whereas my friend is inclined to corpulence.

The author is contrasting corpulence with spare habit here.

If we consult a dictionary for the word corpulence, we discover it means:

The state of being fat; obesity.

-- O.L.D

1
  • 1
    The related term habitus is still in current use in the medical context (I'm a doctor).
    – Deepak
    Commented May 16, 2017 at 8:08
16

Spare means thin, with no excess fat and habit means constitution.

I may be of a spare habit whereas my friend is inclined to corpulence

Habit in the English Novel, 1850-1900: Lived Environments, Practices of the Self

3

Combining some of the dictionary entries, I deduce this means: "of a thin body"

"In physical and medical science, the word is used in its original largeness of meaning, i. e. not as confined to action, but as embracing states, modes of being, and we are accordingly familiar with the phrases "habit of body," "a full" or "a spare habit." Also, medical men speak of a cachexy, a permanent bad condition of the body."

http://www.e-torredebabel.com/philosophydictionary/habit-philosophyglossary.htm

http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/spare

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.