Definition of customs in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkəstəmz/

plural noun

1The official department that administers and collects the duties levied by a government on imported goods: cocaine seizures by customs have risen this year [as modifier]: a customs officer
More example sentences
  • Most of the money collected by customs comes from import duties on mineral fuels, petrol, gas, machinery, equipment and automobiles.
  • Companies must deposit the tariffs at Chinese customs in order to import the goods, the ministry said.
  • Career trade negotiators who set tariff rates have little contact with the customs officers who collect the money.
1.1The place at a port, airport, or frontier where officials check incoming goods, travelers, or luggage: arriving refugees were whisked through customs
More example sentences
  • Willie worked as a home finance adviser for Barclays Bank and used names from a database at work to help the drug smugglers get through airport customs checks.
  • This would have disguised the smell from dogs used by customs officials to check for drugs.
  • At the airport, however, there was no customs check, and there were no immigration officials.
1.2 (usually customs duties) The duties levied by a government on imported goods.
Example sentences
  • To make power affordable, we were expecting elimination of customs duty on import of fuels for power generation and other sops.
  • The customs duty on imports was at first designed only to raise revenue.
  • Each party is free, however, to determine unilaterally the level of customs duty on imports coming from outside the area.


Late Middle English: originally in the singular, denoting a customary due paid to a ruler, later duty levied on goods on their way to market.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cus·toms

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