ab·​lu·​tion | \ ə-ˈblü-shən How to pronounce ablution (audio) , a- \

Definition of ablution

1 formal : the washing of one's body or part of it (as in a religious rite) usually plural ritual ablutionsperforming his morning ablutions
2 ablutions\ ə-​ˈblü-​shənz How to pronounce ablution (audio) , a-​ \ plural, British : a building on a military base that houses bathing and toilet facilities

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from ablution

ablutionary \ ə-​ˈblü-​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce ablution (audio) , -​ˌne-​rē , a-​ \ adjective

The Religious History of Ablution

Ablution derives via Middle French and Middle English from the Latin verb abluere, meaning "to wash away," formed from the prefix ab- ("away, off") and lavere ("to wash"). Early uses of the word occurred in contexts of alchemy and chemistry. The first known use of ablution to refer to washing as a religious rite occurs in Thomas More's The Apologye Made by Hym (1533). Many religions include some kind of washing of the body in their rituals, usually as a form of purification or dedication. The use of the term to refer to the action of washing one's body without any religious significance did not take hold in English until the mid-18th century. In British English, ablutions can also refer to a building housing bathing and toilet facilities on a military base.

Examples of ablution in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web The mosque used to cover an area of almost 2,000 square meters, with a main hall, a guest hall, and ablution room. Alessandra Cappelletti, Quartz, 12 Mar. 2021 The holiday falls during the hottest part of the year in Thailand, so the water is not only a symbol of ablution but also welcome relief from the heat. al, 13 Apr. 2021 The ablution area covered by blue tiles clearly shows the past presence of a mosque. Alessandra Cappelletti, Quartz, 12 Mar. 2021 The primary bathroom and half-bathrooms offer ablution stations replicated from what is traditionally found in mosques. Dallas News, 27 Sep. 2020 At another, wells and an 8-foot-tall stone basin believed to have been used for ablution by pilgrims coming to give tribute to a pantheon of gods suggest an advanced water management system. Taylor Luck, The Christian Science Monitor, 1 June 2020 When a Dallas nurse was diagnosed with Ebola in 2014, area churchgoers added ablutions to their handshakes of peace. Dan Zak, Washington Post, 26 Mar. 2020 Communal taps, shared ablution facilities and open sewerage have been a health risk for decades; causing disease and diseases. Norma Young, Quartz Africa, 24 Mar. 2020 In Chicago, at the headquarters of Gogo, the in-flight internet provider, a prayer and wellness room is outfitted with an ablution station that can be used by Muslims who practice foot washing before praying. Jane Margolies, New York Times, 18 Feb. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ablution.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of ablution

1533, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ablution

Middle English ablucioun "cleansing of oil (in alchemy)," borrowed from Late Latin ablūtiōn-, ablūtiō "washing, cleansing" (Medieval Latin, "cleansing of oil"), from Latin abluere "to wash off, cleanse," from ab- ab- + -luere, form in combination of lavere "to wash" + -tiōn-, -tiō, suffix of action nouns — more at lye

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More About ablution

Time Traveler for ablution

Time Traveler

The first known use of ablution was in 1533

See more words from the same year

Listen to Our Podcast About ablution

Dictionary Entries Near ablution



ablution block

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for ablution

Cite this Entry

“Ablution.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ablution. Accessed 24 Oct. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon
Seen & Heard
People are talking about

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for ablution


ab·​lu·​tion | \ ə-ˈblü-shən, a-ˈblü- How to pronounce ablution (audio) \

Medical Definition of ablution

: the washing of one's body or part of it

Other Words from ablution

ablutionary \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce ablution (audio) \ adjective

More from Merriam-Webster on ablution

Nglish: Translation of ablution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ablution for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ablution


Test Your Vocabulary

Farm Idioms Quiz

  • cow coming home
  • What does 'poke' refer to in the expression 'pig in a poke'?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!