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From Middle English cerymonial, from Latin caerimōniālis.


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ceremonial (comparative more ceremonial, superlative most ceremonial)

  1. Of, relating to, or used in a ceremony.
    Synonyms: formal, ritual, ritualistic
    • c. 1593, William Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew, Act III, Scene 2,[1]
      What mockery will it be
      To want the bridegroom when the priest attends
      To speak the ceremonial rites of marriage!
    • 1751, Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, No. 179, 3 December, 1751, Volume 6, London: J. Payne and J. Bouquet, 1752, p. 53,[2]
      His merit introduced him to splendid tables and elegant acquaintance, but he did not find himself always qualified to join in the conversation. He was distressed by civilities, which he knew not how to repay, and entangled in many ceremonial perplexities, from which his books and diagrams could not extricate him.
    • 1827, Henry Hallam, The Constitutional History of England, Paris: L. Baudry, Volume 1, Chapter 2, p. 116,[3]
      [] this change in ceremonial observances and outward show was trifling when compared to that in the objects of worship []
    • 1963, Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar, New York: Bantam, 1972, Chapter 15, p. 151,[4]
      Philomena Guinea’s black Cadillac eased through the tight, five o’clock traffic like a ceremonial car.
  2. (archaic) Observant of ceremony, ritual, or social forms.
    Synonym: ceremonious
    • c. 1593, John Donne, “Satyre I” in Poems, London: John Marriot, 1633, p. 326,[5]
      Oh monstrous, superstitious puritan,
      Of refin’d manners, yet ceremoniall man,
    • 1693, John Dryden (translator), The Satires of Decimus Junius Juvenalis, London: Jacob Tonson, “The Tenth Satyr,” lines 56-57, p. 193,[6]
      [] with dumb Pride, and a set formal Face,
      He moves, in the dull Ceremonial track,

Derived terms[edit]



ceremonial (countable and uncountable, plural ceremonials)

  1. A ceremony, or series of ceremonies, prescribed by ritual.
    • 1749, Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling, Dublin: John Smith, Volume 3, Book 17, Chapter 6, p. 257,[7]
      Curt’sies, and the usual Ceremonials between Women who are Strangers to each other being past, Sophia said, ‘I have not the Pleasure to know you, Madam.’
    • 1850, Nathaniel Hawthorne, The Scarlet Letter, Chapter 5,[8]
      Public ceremonies, such as ordinations, the installation of magistrates, and all that could give majesty to the forms in which a new government manifested itself to the people, were, as a matter of policy, marked by a stately and well-conducted ceremonial, and a sombre, but yet a studied magnificence.
    • 1972, Robertson Davies, The Manticore, Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 2015, Chapter 5,[9]
      I have been in favour of ceremonial and patterns all my life, and I have no desire to break the funeral pattern.




From Latin caerimōniālis.


  • (Castilian) IPA(key): /θeɾemoˈnjal/
  • (Latin America) IPA(key): /seɾemoˈnjal/
  • Rhymes: -al
  • Hyphenation: ce‧re‧mo‧nial


ceremonial (plural ceremoniales)

  1. ceremonial

Related terms[edit]

Further reading[edit]