default into

Discussion in 'English Only' started by littlemonyou, Feb 14, 2014.

  1. littlemonyou

    littlemonyou Senior Member

    The key to changing a habit is to invest heavily in the early stages of habit-formation so that the behavior becomes automated and we later default into it rather than exhausting our willpower wrestling with it. (From "how to make your own luck", brain pickings)

    Hi, I am having a difficult time to apply the definition of "default" in this context above. Default means "to fail to perform sth" according to dictionaries, yet the definition doesn't seem to fit in to this context at all.

    Could you help me to understand this sentence? Thanks!
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2014
  2. Florentia52

    Florentia52 Modwoman in the attic

    English - United States
    I don't see this verb definition in the WR dictionary, but it's related to the following noun definition:

    "the preset selection of an option offered by a system, which will always be followed except when explicitly altered"

    If you "default to" something, you revert to it automatically.

    Please remember to cite the source of any sentence you post.

  3. littlemonyou

    littlemonyou Senior Member

    Thanks for the definition. I now put the source in the post.
  4. Parla Member Emeritus

    New York City
    English - US
    I agree with Florentia; note that the proper phrase is default to (not "into").
  5. loghrat Senior Member

    British English / Danish

    It is there, Florentia. See below.
    But, as you say, 'default (in)to' in the OP has a different
    meaning, i.e. it is a verbal form of noun definition 6. Interesting to note that the WR Dictionary doesn't list this.

    default /dɪˈfɔːlt/n
    • a failure to act, esp a failure to meet a financial obligation or to appear in a court of law at a time specified
    • absence or lack
    • by default ⇒ in the absence of opposition or a better alternative:he became prime minister by default
    • in default of ⇒ through or in the lack or absence of
    • judgment by default ⇒ a judgment in the plaintiff's favour when the defendant fails to plead or to appear
    • /(also) ˈdiːfɔːlt/ the preset selection of an option offered by a system, which will always be followed except when explicitly altered
    • (as modifier): default setting
    • (intr; often followed by on or in) to fail to make payment when due
    • (intransitive) to fail to fulfil or perform an obligation, engagement, etc: to default in a sporting contest
    • to lose (a case) by failure to appear in court
    Etymology: 13th Century: from Old French defaute, from defaillir to fail, from Vulgar Latin dēfallīre (unattested) to be lacking


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