See more synonyms for ritual on Thesaurus.com
  1. an established or prescribed procedure for a religious or other rite.
  2. a system or collection of religious or other rites.
  3. observance of set forms in public worship.
  4. a book of rites or ceremonies.
  5. 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.
  6. a prescribed or established rite, ceremony, proceeding, or service: the ritual of the dead.
  7. prescribed, established, or ceremonial acts or features collectively, as in religious services.
  8. any practice or pattern of behavior regularly performed in a set manner.
  9. 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.
  10. 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

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

See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com

Synonym study

1. See ceremony.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for ritual

Contemporary Examples of ritual

Historical Examples of ritual

  • Throughout the ritual of the day he could not grow accustomed to saying good-bye.

  • It is very remarkable, and although infallible, I never read it in any ritual.

    The Phantom World

    Augustin Calmet

  • They lead a sort of ritual dance, that most of us have agreed to take seriously.

    The Rescue

    Joseph Conrad

  • In this the Roman ritual is markedly different from the Greek.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

  • There is no great religion in which ritual is so much, doctrine and enthusiasm so little.

    History of Religion

    Allan Menzies

British Dictionary definitions for ritual


  1. the prescribed or established form of a religious or other ceremony
  2. such prescribed forms in general or collectively
  3. stereotyped activity or behaviour
  4. psychol any repetitive behaviour, such as hand-washing, performed by a person with a compulsive personality disorder
  5. any formal act, institution, or procedure that is followed consistentlythe ritual of the law
  1. 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

ritual in Medicine


  1. 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.