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[bap-tiz-uh m] /ˈbæp tɪz əm/
Ecclesiastical. a ceremonial immersion in water, or application of water, as an initiatory rite or sacrament of the Christian church.
any similar ceremony or action of initiation, dedication, etc.
a trying or purifying experience or initiation.
Christian Science. purification of thought and character.
Origin of baptism
1250-1300; Middle English < Late Latin baptisma < Greek bapt(ízein) to baptize + -isma -ism; replacing Middle English bapteme < Old French < Late Latin, as above
Related forms
[bap-tiz-muh l] /bæpˈtɪz məl/ (Show IPA),
baptismally, adverb
postbaptismal, adjective
pseudobaptismal, adjective
rebaptism, noun
2. induction, admittance, introduction. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for baptismal


a Christian religious rite consisting of immersion in or sprinkling with water as a sign that the subject is cleansed from sin and constituted as a member of the Church
the act of baptizing or of undergoing baptism
any similar experience of initiation, regeneration, or dedication
Derived Forms
baptismal, adjective
baptismally, adverb
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for baptismal

1640s, from baptism + -al (1).



c.1300, bapteme, from Old French batesme, bapteme (11c., Modern French baptême), from Latin baptismus, from Greek baptismos, noun of action from baptizein (see baptize). The -s- restored in later 14c.

Figurative sense is from late 14c. The Anglo-Saxons used fulluht in this sense (John the Baptist was Iohannes se Fulluhtere). Phrase baptism of fire "a soldier's first experience of battle" (1857) translates French baptême de feu; the phrase originally was ecclesiastical Greek baptisma pyros and meant "the grace of the Holy Spirit as imparted through baptism." Later it was used of martyrdom, especially by burning.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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baptismal in Culture

baptism definition

The ceremony of initiation into Christianity; in most Christian churches, it is considered a sacrament. Persons baptized either have water poured on them or are immersed in water; some groups of Christians insist on immersion. The effect of baptism, in Christian belief, is to cleanse persons of their sins, so that they are born into a new life with Jesus. Most churches baptize members when they are infants, but some groups, like the Baptists, insist on adult baptism. Jesus himself was baptized. (See John the Baptist.)

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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