late 15c., "a dweller, a resident," from Old French habitant, abitant "inhabitant," from noun use of Latin habitantis, genitive plural of habitans, present participle of habitare "to live, inhabit, dwell," frequentative of habere "to have, to hold, possess" (from PIE root *ghabh- "to give or receive"). Specific meaning "a native Canadian of French descent" attested by 1789; it was the usual word for small farmers in 18c. Quebec, and Bartlett (1848) describes habitan as an Americanism for "The lower class of Canadians of French origin."
updated on November 02, 2020
Dictionary entries near habitant