[ rich-oo-uhl ]
See synonyms for: ritualrituals on Thesaurus.com

  1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or otherrite.

  2. a system or collection of religious or other rites.

  1. observance of set forms in public worship.

  2. a book of rites or ceremonies.

  3. a book containing the offices to be used by priests in administering the sacraments and for visitation of the sick, burial of the dead, etc.

  4. a prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service: the ritual of the dead.

  5. prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services.

  6. any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.

  7. a prescribed code of behavior regulating social conduct, as that exemplified by the raising of one's hat or the shaking of hands in greeting.

  8. Psychiatry. a specific act, as hand-washing, performed repetitively to a pathological degree, occurring as a common symptom of obsessive-compulsive neurosis.

  1. of the nature of or practiced as a rite or ritual: a ritual dance.

  2. of or relating to rites or ritual: ritual laws.

Origin of ritual

First recorded in 1560–70; from Latin rītuālis, from rītu(s) rite + -ālis -al1

synonym study For ritual

1. See ceremony.

Other words for ritual

Other words from ritual

  • rit·u·al·ly, adverb
  • an·ti·rit·u·al, adjective
  • pro·rit·u·al, adjective
  • un·rit·u·al, adjective
  • un·rit·u·al·ly, adverb

Words Nearby ritual

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use ritual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for ritual


/ (ˈrɪtjʊəl) /

  1. the prescribed or established form of a religious or other ceremony

  2. such prescribed forms in general or collectively

  1. stereotyped activity or behaviour

  2. psychol any repetitive behaviour, such as hand-washing, performed by a person with a compulsive personality disorder

  3. any formal act, institution, or procedure that is followed consistently: the ritual of the law

  1. of, relating to, or characteristic of religious, social, or other rituals

Origin of ritual

C16: from Latin rītuālis, from rītus rite

Derived forms of ritual

  • ritually, 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