Definition of ablution
- ritual ablutions
- performing his morning ablutions
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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.
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.
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subject to rapid or unexpected change
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