of the nature of or practiced as a rite or ritual: a ritual dance.
of or relating to rites or ritual: ritual laws.

Origin of ritual

1560–70; < Latin rītuālis, equivalent to rītu-, stem of rītus rite + -ālis -al1
Related formsrit·u·al·ly, adverban·ti·rit·u·al, adjectivepro·rit·u·al, adjectiveun·rit·u·al, adjectiveun·rit·u·al·ly, adverb

Synonyms for ritual

Synonym study

1. See ceremony.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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Contemporary Examples of ritual

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British Dictionary definitions for ritual



the prescribed or established form of a religious or other ceremony
such prescribed forms in general or collectively
stereotyped activity or behaviour
psychol any repetitive behaviour, such as hand-washing, performed by a person with a compulsive personality disorder
any formal act, institution, or procedure that is followed consistentlythe ritual of the law


of, relating to, or characteristic of religious, social, or other rituals
Derived Formsritually, adverb

Word Origin for ritual

C16: from Latin rītuālis, from rītus rite
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

Word Origin and History for ritual

1560s, from Middle French ritual or directly from Latin ritualis "relating to (religious) rites," from ritus "rite" (see rite). Related: Ritually.


1640s, from ritual (adj.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

Medicine definitions for ritual




A detailed act or series of acts carried out by an individual to relieve anxiety or to forestall the development of anxiety.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.