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 plural, British : a building on a military base that houses bathing and toilet facilities

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Other Words from ablution

ablutionary \ -​shə-​ˌner-​ē How to pronounce ablutionary (audio) , -​ˌne-​rē \ 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

Many stepwells were used for ablution; the tanks associated with mosques, Hindu temples and other shrines offered the most purificatory form. Summoning water from the depths was also a symbol of temporal power. The Economist, "India’s magnificent stepwells are relics of a nuanced history," 13 July 2019 With ritual precision, the vestals awaken their miserable charges each dawn and roll them about on their beds of pain while performing ablutions, in the formal movements of which the maidens are highly trained. Gabriel Winant, The New Republic, "Barbara Ehrenreich’s radical critique of wellness and self-improvement," 23 May 2018 Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, equated with Islamic ablution. Washington Post, "Chinese mass-indoctrination camps evoke Cultural Revolution," 17 May 2018 Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, equated with Islamic ablution. Gerry Shih, The Christian Science Monitor, "In 're-education' program, China incarcerates thousands of Muslims," 17 May 2018 Baths were rare, as was washing of hands and feet, equated with Islamic ablution. Fox News, "'Thank the Party!' China tries to brainwash Muslims in camps," 17 May 2018 Holds have in the past been designed as cabin crew rest areas and for ablutions. Benjamin D Katz, Bloomberg.com, "Airbus to Offer Naps in the Cargo Hold," 10 Apr. 2018 It is smoked after everything else is done with: the evening meal, TV, reading in bed, bathroom ablutions, everything except brushing my teeth. Longreads, "Mr. Throat and Me," 14 Oct. 2017 The title track, written by Rose Cousins as a torch song, is rendered here as a plea for collective ablution. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Lizz Wright’s ‘Grace,’ an Ode to the South and to Forgiveness," 8 Sep. 2017

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.

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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

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Last Updated

27 Jul 2019

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The first known use of ablution was in 1533

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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 ablutionary (audio) \ adjective

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More from Merriam-Webster on ablution

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with ablution

Spanish Central: Translation of ablution

Nglish: Translation of ablution for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ablution for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about ablution

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