from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun A washing or cleansing of the body, especially as part of a religious rite.
  • noun The liquid so used.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun In a general sense, the act of washing; a cleansing or purification by water.
  • noun Any ceremonial washing.
  • noun In the Roman Catholic Church: The washing of the feet of the poor (John xiii. 14) on Maundy or Holy Thursday, called mandatum. The washing of the celebrant's hands before and after communion. In the Eastern Church, the purification of the newly baptized on the eighth day after baptism.
  • noun In the Roman Catholic Church, the wine and water which after communion are separately poured into the chalice over the thumb and index-finger of the officiating priest, who drinks this ablution before going on with the closing prayers.
  • noun In chem., the purification of bodies by the affusion of a proper liquor, as water to dissolve salts.
  • noun In medicine, the washing of the body externally, as by baths, or internally, by diluent fluids.
  • noun The water used in cleansing.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The act of washing or cleansing; specifically, the washing of the body, or some part of it, as a religious rite.
  • noun The water used in cleansing.
  • noun (R. C. Ch.) A small quantity of wine and water, which is used to wash the priest's thumb and index finger after the communion, and which then, as perhaps containing portions of the consecrated elements, is drunk by the priest.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun The act of washing something.
  • noun The ritual consumption by the deacon or priest of leftover sacred wine of host after the Communion.

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

  • noun the ritual washing of a priest's hands or of sacred vessels


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

[Middle English ablucioun, from Latin ablūtiō, ablūtiōn-, from ablūtus, past participle of abluere, to wash away : ab-, away; see ab– + -luere, to wash; see leu(ə)- in Indo-European roots.]


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  • The act of ablution is sympathetic magic, based as it is on the "like produces like" principle, the principle that action on the signifier (physical dirt) is, or results in, parallel action on the signified (spiritual sin).

    The Stain of Sin Hal Duncan 2006

  • The act of ablution is sympathetic magic, based as it is on the "like produces like" principle, the principle that action on the signifier (physical dirt) is, or results in, parallel action on the signified (spiritual sin).

    Archive 2006-02-01 Hal Duncan 2006

  • When the minor ablution is ended, the worshipper should say, I testify that there is no god but the God, the One, which for partner hath none, and I testify that Mohammed is His servant and His apostle.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • It was on that fatal spot that he conferred on his son the honor of knighthood: and the ceremony was accomplished by a slight blow from each of the horsemen of the guard, and by a ridiculous and inhuman ablution from a pool of water, which was yet polluted with patrician blood.

    The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire 1206

  • 308 Complete ablution is rendered necessary chiefly by the emission of semen either in copulation or in nocturnal pollution.

    The Book of The Thousand Nights And A Night 2006

  • Despite how it sounds, "ablution" is ceremonial washing, not a stomach-flattening exercise.

    Under the Table: Baby Got Beard BikeSnobNYC 2010

  • "Although the process is going well, it is a matter of concern that some houses are not built according to the set building norms and standards of the Department of Housing, which stipulate that all houses should be built with facilities such as ablution and sinks inside," committee chairwoman Zoliswa Fredericks-Kota wrote in a statement.

    ANC Daily News Briefing 2008

  • The three Tibetan Buddhist lineages of the New Translation Period - Sakya, Kagyu, and Gelug - divide tantra into four classes: kriya (ritual Buddha-figure practice), which emphasizes external ritual practices such as ablution, diet, and fasting; charya (behavioral Buddha-figure practice), which equally emphasizes external behavior and internal methods; yoga (integrated Buddha-figure practice), which emphasizes internal methods of yoga; anuttarayoga (peerlessly integrated Buddha-figure practice), which teaches special, more advanced methods of internal practice.

    Basic Features of Tantra 2002

  • Baptism is the initial sacrament of the New Testament, by which the covenant people of God are sprinkled with water, by a minister of the church, in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost -- to signify and to testify the spiritual ablution which is effected by the blood and Spirit of Christ.

    The Works of James Arminius, Vol. 2 1560-1609 1956

  • But if anything of the sort happen after the consecration, the insect should be caught carefully and washed thoroughly, then burned, and the "ablution," together with the ashes, thrown into the sacrarium.

    Summa Theologica, Part III (Tertia Pars) From the Complete American Edition Aquinas Thomas


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  • Perhaps performed in a neccessarium.

    October 26, 2007

  • When washbowl

    maintains it has no more holy calling

    than physical ablution

    from "Tale of a Tub," by Sylvia Plath

    April 14, 2008

  • ...The moving waters at their priestlike task

    Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

    Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask

    Of snow upon the mountains and the moors–

    - John Keats, 'Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art'.

    December 4, 2008

  • I use ablute as a verb all the time and think it's a shame this excellent word isn't "official"

    December 4, 2008

  • Also see ablutions.

    December 4, 2008

  • the definition doesn't mention raccoons or bears. Why? (see Alquonkian comments)

    March 23, 2012

  • "My dear aunt, how could you think of it? Mr. Darcy may perhaps have heard of such a place as Gracechurch Street, but he would hardly think a month's ablution enough to cleanse him from its impurities, were he once to enter it; and

    depend upon it, Mr. Bingley never stirs without him." - Pride and

    Prejudice by Jane Austen

    August 16, 2015