A ritual is a ceremony or action performed in a customary way. Your family might have a Saturday night ritual of eating a big spaghetti dinner and then taking a long walk to the ice cream shop.

As an adjective, ritual means "conforming to religious rites," which are the sacred, customary ways of celebrating a religion or culture. Different communities have different ritual practices, like meditation in Buddhism, or baptism in Christianity. We also call the ceremony itself a ritual. Although it comes from religious ceremonies, ritual can also be used for any time-honored tradition, like the Superbowl, or Mardi Gras, or Sunday morning pancake breakfast.

Definitions of ritual

n the prescribed procedure for conducting religious ceremonies

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the ritual washing of a priest's hands or of sacred vessels
celebration, solemnisation, solemnization
the public performance of a sacrament or solemn ceremony with all appropriate ritual
Communion, Holy Communion, manduction, sacramental manduction
the act of participating in the celebration of the Eucharist
participation in Holy Communion by members of more than one church (eg Catholic and Orthodox)
Type of:
pattern, practice
a customary way of operation or behavior

n any customary observance or practice

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betrothal, espousal
the act of becoming betrothed or engaged
marriage, marriage ceremony, wedding
the act of marrying; the nuptial ceremony
rite of passage
a ritual performed in some cultures at times when an individual changes status (as from adolescence to adulthood)
bridal, espousal
archaic terms for a wedding or wedding feast
civil marriage
a marriage performed by a government official rather than by a clergyman
love match
a marriage for love's sake; not an arranged marriage
the act of marrying again
Type of:
custom, usage, usance
accepted or habitual practice

n stereotyped behavior

Type of:
habit, use
(psychology) an automatic pattern of behavior in reaction to a specific situation; may be inherited or acquired through frequent repetition

adj of or relating to or characteristic of religious rituals

ritual killing”

adj of or relating to or employed in social rites or rituals

“a ritual dance of Haiti”
“"sedate little colonial tribe with its ritual tea parties"- Nadine Gordimer”

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