1. The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication: cultural practices that are preserved by tradition.
a. A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage: the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
b. A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners. See Synonyms at heritage.
3. A precept or a body of precepts that are not written in the sacred book of a religion, such as the Bible, but are considered holy or true.
4. A style or method of an activity or practice, especially of artistic expression, that is recognized and sometimes imitated: satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift.
5. A piece of folklore: "a popular medieval tradition that identified the queen of Sheba with the Blessed Virgin Mary" (Nicholas Clapp).
[Middle English tradicioun, from Old French, from Latin trāditiō, trāditiōn-, from trāditus, past participle of trādere, to hand over, deliver, entrust : trā-, trāns-, trans- + dare, to give; see dō- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
The American Heritage Dictionary Blog
Check out our blog, updated regularly, for new words and revised definitions, interesting images from the 5th edition, discussions of usage, and more.