a. A person who participates in a religious ceremony or rite.
b. A person who officiates at a religious or civil ceremony or rite, especially a wedding.
c. In some Christian churches, the cleric officiating at the celebration of the Eucharist.
2. A participant in a celebration.
Usage Note: Celebrant originally referred to an official participant in a religious ceremony or rite. In the United States, celebrant developed an extended meaning: "a participant in a celebration," as in The New Year's Eve celebrants went wild at the stroke of midnight. As far back as 1965, half of the Usage Panel accepted this extended sense, and over the years, the margin of approval by the Panel has increased. By 2006, 80 percent of the Panel accepted this usage.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.