Definition of ablution
1 formal : the washing of one's body or part of it (as in a religious rite) —usually plural ritual ablutions performing his morning ablutions
2 ablutions plural, British : a building on a military base that houses bathing and toilet facilities
ablutionaryplay \-shə-ˌner-ē, -ˌne-rē\ adjective
ablution was our Word of the Day on 06/04/2016. Hear the podcast!
Recent Examples of ablution from the Web
Also on the board was a step-by-step guide to ablution before prayer, with a drawing of a human figure with arrows to illustrate which body parts to wash.
A Sri Lankan Muslim boy performs ablutions before attending a prayer session to celebrate Eid al-Adha in Colombo, Sri Lanka.
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.
Did You Know?
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.
Origin and Etymology of 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
First Known Use: 1533See Words from the same year
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up ablution? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).