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

Examples from the Web for ritually

Contemporary Examples of ritually

  • Bill Clinton administered the oath of office to de Blasio and then ritually nodded to inequality as a source of “moral outrage.”

    The Daily Beast logo
    When Dems Loved Wall Street

    Lloyd Green

    January 6, 2014

  • His comment about being a Special Olympian bowler was just one of those things, and he duly, and ritually, apologized.

    The Daily Beast logo
    Bonfire of the Inanities

    Christopher Buckley

    March 22, 2009

Historical Examples of ritually

  • Acts are ritually repeated at the recurrence of the rhythmical points.


    William Graham Sumner

  • Guilt is allayed by symbolically and ritually passing it onto another.

    After the Rain

    Sam Vaknin

  • Meanwhile, and above all, the negligent Vestal must be punished; and at once the sacred fire must be ritually rekindled.

    The Unwilling Vestal

    Edward Lucas White

  • It's the way I shall always think of her—ritually clothed, and pouring out tea to her gods from sacred vessels of colonial silver!

    The Book of Susan

    Lee Wilson Dodd

  • The idea that the powers of growth had successfully combated those of blight may have been ritually represented.

British Dictionary definitions for ritually



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 ritually



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

ritually in Medicine




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.