a. A ceremony in which the actions and wording follow a prescribed form and order.
b. The body of ceremonies or rites used in a place of worship or by an organization: according to Catholic ritual.
2. A book of rites or ceremonial forms.
3. A set of actions that are conducted routinely in the same manner: My household chores have become a morning ritual.
4. Zoology A set of actions that an animal performs in a fixed sequence, often as a means of communication: the greeting ritual in baboons.
1. Associated with or performed according to a rite or ritual: a priest's ritual garments; a ritual sacrifice.
2. Being part of an established routine: a ritual glass of milk before bed.
[From Latin rītuālis, of rites, from rītus, rite; see RITE.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. 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.