Example word-senses:

  • when you've been pronouncing a word a certain way just because you've never heard another person pronounce it
  • when you've been doing a physical exercise wrong because you've never been corrected / you never noticed

Sample sentences:

  • I'm pronouncing it that way because X
  • It's a case of X
  • Today I overcame X with my kicking technique thanks to my new martial arts instructor

Words I tried which don't seem to work:

Criteria for the "best" word: perhaps the one that gives closest indication to the phenomenon (best captures the intended word-sense)

Is a compound word or phrase acceptable: yes

  • I defy anyone to replace X in each of those 3 sample sentences with the same word or phrase and make 3 grammatical sentences. Please clarify your requirements for the form and function for our suggestions to replace X. Jan 22 at 17:33
  • "I'm pronouncing it that way because I've only ever seen it in writing." (You've never heard another person pronounce it!) Jan 22 at 17:51
  • Hi @HighPerformanceMark. Feel free to be fluid in form, as long as the word you suggest is more succinct in capturing the phenomenon than using a sentence. I hope this is clear from the "criteria" that I've included (as prompted by stackexchange when I was writing the question). If not then let me know how else I can clarify the question. There are already some candidate answers that are coming close. Jan 23 at 7:46
  • I notice that your title includes not only doing something because that's the way you've always done it, but doing it incorrectly. That really makes it difficult to find a simple phrase. Is that really necessary if "incorrectly" could be added as a qualification?
    – David
    Jan 24 at 10:43
  • @David no. If incorrect could be added as a natural qualifier, it's fine. I also mentioned trying to find words with which I could add a single word qualifier to indicate that, but I failed in my search. Jan 25 at 7:41

6 Answers 6


Ingrained is often used to describe behavior, beliefs, attitudes, etc. that are wrong and, ideally, corrected. Of course good or correct things can be ingrained as well, but the "difficult to change" aspect makes the adjective well-suited for something longstanding that is deemed to be wrong.

ingrained (adj.)

(Of a habit, belief, or attitude) firmly fixed or established; difficult to change.

Widows and widowers aren't baggage-free either, and even those stalwarts who have remained single for half a lifetime will be carrying armfuls of ingrained habits and cherished routines.

I have not yet stopped buying the paper, as I simply find it too hard to break such an ingrained habit, but each morning I spend a little longer in the newsagent's before picking it up. Lexico

In the worst case, faults of spelling are more easily corrected than an ingrained bad pronunciation. Proceedings of the High School Conference of November ... 1910 p.113

If you sense that a good apple is beginning to go bad, it's important to act quickly and intervene before the bad habits or behavior becomes ingrained. Sember and B. Sember; Bad Apples: How to Manage Difficult Employees... (2009)

In my experience, as students become aware and "practised" in noting and correcting their personal mistakes, many previously ingrained errors are continually highlighted and, eventually, corrected as students write. Forum p.44 (1982)

Overeating is typically a combustible combination of disturbing feelings and wrong thoughts, coupled with deeply ingrained behavior patterns and easily available food. Stephen Arteburn; Lose It for Life Workbook (2004)


To express this idea in the most common, comprehensible manner, I recommend:

I’m doing this from force of habit.

As it says in the Collins dictionary:

“If you do something from or by force of habit, you do it because you have always done it in the past…”

The section I have italicized relates almost perfectly to the title of this question, although it does not include the idea of incorrectness, which would hardly fit the first example. But you can easily qualify this to say:

He does it incorrectly from force of habit

(I would suggest that one should only try to make an abstract noun to describe the idea if you’re a professional psychologist talking to your peers — and then it would probably be in German† and off-topic.)

Gewöhlichkeitsabhängigtendenz comes to mind (mine, not a native German speaker’s).


I'm pronouncing it that way because I was blissfully unaware the correct version was ….
It's a case of being blissfully unaware.
Today I overcame my blissful ignorance regarding my poor kicking technique thanks to my new martial arts instructor.

Quoting https://www.macmillandictionary.com/dictionary/british/unaware :

blissfully unaware (=not knowing about something unpleasant): Sam was blissfully unaware that they were laughing at him.

A few example usages from https://www.collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/blissfully-unaware :

Has the actress been in la-la land, blissfully unaware of current events?
Times, Sunday Times (2009).

The singer seemed blissfully unaware as he performed with the two female singers in his band. The Sun (2009).

The mouse seems blissfully unaware that it is about to plucked from the snow and will shortly be lunch for a great grey owl.
Times, Sunday Times (2014).

My daughter was snoozing away in her car seat, blissfully unaware.
Times, Sunday Times (2014).

Those newlyweds were still blissfully unaware and butterflies turn into ritual and routine.
Christianity Today (2000).


The term mumpsimus is used for persistent misuse, including that due to ingrainedness:

mumpsimus [noun]

adherence to or persistence in an erroneous use of language, memorization, practice, belief, etc., out of habit or obstinacy ...


Most dictionaries, however, require the stubbornness qualification.

  • The story behind mumpsimus displays considerable stubbornness. It's a mispronunciation of L sumpsimus which had slipped into some priest's recitation. When corrected, he responded that he preferred his pronunciation to the official one. Jan 23 at 17:22
  • 1
    Sounds like the way English usually develops. Jan 23 at 19:22
  • "Is used" by whom?
    – David
    Jan 23 at 19:47
  • Albert P' Rayan [Edex Live] +1 for a start. The dictionaries do the research normally considered necessary on ELU. Jan 24 at 11:56

There are some good ones here but I've got another:

automatic pilot or autopilot

Originally this was a term used in engineering. Here's a definition from the field of psychology:

“The term ‘automatic pilot’ describes a state of mind in which one acts without conscious intention or awareness of present-moment sensory perception.” Source


I went home after my appointment by accident. The car was on autopilot.

My first semester of music school was mainly about technique. I had to turn off my autopilot, practice really slowly, and learn how to use arm weight for shifts, and arm circles for string crossing.


It's a case of not knowing better.

"Better" implies that there's better way to do things.

  • I'm pronouncing it that way because I don't know any better.
  • I'm pronouncing it that way because of not knowing better.
  • It's a case of not knowing better.
  • Today I overcame not knowing better with my kicking technique thanks to my new martial arts instructor.

Truly, ignorance can fit in any of these, but this is a little less harsh.

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