from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. The prescribed or customary form for conducting a religious or other solemn ceremony: the rite of baptism.
  • n. A ceremonial act or series of acts: fertility rites.
  • n. The liturgy or practice of a branch of the Christian church.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A religious custom.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • n. The act of performing divine or solemn service, as established by law, precept, or custom; a formal act of religion or other solemn duty; a solemn observance; a ceremony.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. A formal act or series of acts of religious or other solemn service, performed according to a manner regularly established by law, precept, or custom.
  • n. The manner or form prescribed for such an act; a ceremonial.
  • n. Hence Any ceremony or due observance.
  • n. Synonyms Form, Observance, etc. See ceremony.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. an established ceremony prescribed by a religion
  • n. any customary observance or practice


Middle English, from Latin rītus; see ar- in Indo-European roots.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Via Middle English and Old French, from Latin ritus (Wiktionary)


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