AskDefine | Define ceremony

Dictionary Definition



1 a formal event performed on a special occasion; "a ceremony commemorating Pearl Harbor" [syn: ceremonial, ceremonial occasion, observance]
2 any activity that is performed in an especially solemn elaborate or formal way; "the ceremony of smelling the cork and tasting the wine"; "he makes a ceremony of addressing his golf ball"; "he disposed of it without ceremony"
3 the proper or conventional behavior on some solemn occasion; "an inaugural ceremony"

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. A ritual with religious significance.
  2. An official gathering to celebrate, commemorate, or otherwise mark some event.
  3. Formal socially-established behaviour often in relation to people of different ranks.

Derived terms


ritual with religious significance
official gathering to celebrate
formal socially-established behaviour

Extensive Definition

A ceremony is an activity, infused with ritual significance, performed on a special occasion.

Celebration of life

A ceremony may mark a rite of passage in a human career, marking the significance of (for example):

Government ceremonies

Sometimes, a ceremony may only be performed by a person with certain authority. For example, the opening of the United Kingdom Parliament is presided over by the Sovereign (currently Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II). The naming and launching of a warship will be under the supervision of its captain or a higher-ranked naval officer. A wedding will be performed by a priest or a Civil Celebrant, as in Australia. The President of the United States is customarily sworn in by the Chief Justice of the United States, and the British sovereign is always crowned by the Archbishop of Canterbury.

Celebration of events

Other, society-wide ceremonies may mark annual or seasonal or recurrent events like:
Other ceremonies underscore the importance of irregular special occasions, such as:
In some Asian cultures, ceremonies also play an important role, for example the tea ceremony.


Ceremonies may have a physical display or theatrical component: dance, a procession, the laying on of hands. A declaratory verbal pronouncement may explain or cap the occasion, for instance:
  • I now pronounce you man and wife.
  • I swear to serve and defend the nation ...
  • I declare open the games of ...
  • I/We dedicate this ... ... to ...
Both physical and verbal components of a ceremony may become part of a liturgy.
ceremony in Min Nan: Lé-sio̍k
ceremony in Danish: Ceremoni
ceremony in German: Zeremonie
ceremony in Spanish: Ceremonia
ceremony in Esperanto: Ceremonio
ceremony in French: Cérémonie
ceremony in Italian: Cerimoniale
ceremony in Hebrew: טקס
ceremony in Macedonian: Церемонија
ceremony in Dutch: Ceremonie
ceremony in Norwegian: Seremoni
ceremony in Norwegian Nynorsk: Seremoni
ceremony in Polish: Ceremonia
ceremony in Simple English: Ceremony
ceremony in Swedish: Ceremoni

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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