cel·​e·​brate ˈse-lə-ˌbrāt How to pronounce celebrate (audio)
celebrated; celebrating

transitive verb

: to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites
A priest celebrates Mass.
: to honor (an occasion, such as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business
The nation celebrates Memorial Day.
: to mark (something, such as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
celebrated their 25th anniversary
: to hold up or play up for public notice
her poetry celebrates the glory of nature

intransitive verb

: to observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, or take part in a festival
The holiday revelers celebrated all day long.
: to observe a notable occasion with festivities
decided the only way to celebrate was to have a party
celebration noun
celebrative adjective
celebrator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for celebrate

keep, observe, celebrate, commemorate mean to notice or honor a day, occasion, or deed.

keep stresses the idea of not neglecting or violating.

kept the Sabbath by refraining from work

observe suggests marking the occasion by ceremonious performance.

not all holidays are observed nationally

celebrate suggests acknowledging an occasion by festivity.

traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge dinner

commemorate suggests that an occasion is marked by observances that remind one of the origin and significance of the event.

commemorate Memorial Day with the laying of wreaths

Example Sentences

We are celebrating my birthday by going out to dinner. The family gathered to celebrate Christmas. We are celebrating our anniversary next week. They are celebrating the birth of their third child. The book celebrates the movies of the past. Her lecture celebrated the genius of the artist. He is celebrated for his contributions to modern science. A priest celebrates Mass at the church daily. See More
Recent Examples on the Web Harry attended his father's coronation earlier this month while Meghan stayed home in part to celebrate Archie's fourth birthday, which was the same day. Alyssa Bailey, ELLE, 18 May 2023 The twosome celebrated another anniversary of the fourth hour segment on April 7. Adrianna Freedman, Good Housekeeping, 17 May 2023 The series of snaps featured Sascha with her parents, friends and little brothers Shepherd, 17, and Julian, 20. 07 Paris Brosnan Pierce Brosnan celebrated his son's major achievement on Instagram. Zoey Lyttle, Peoplemag, 17 May 2023 To set the interior apart from the production version, there are two plaques in the Urus SCV12, one that celebrates Lamborghini's 60th birthday and one with the owner's name. Jack Fitzgerald, Car and Driver, 17 May 2023 Blumenthal was striding through the corridors of the capital with the assistance of a cane after falling at a parade celebrating the University of Connecticut winning the national championship in basketball. Benjamin Oreskes, Los Angeles Times, 16 May 2023 Kelly is not a firebrand, not a pitcher who barks at umpires or leaps off the mound to celebrate strikeouts. Theo Mackie, The Arizona Republic, 15 May 2023 Historic additions to teenage boys’ spank banks are to be celebrated! Vulture, 15 May 2023 Twenty-six cultures that call Skokie home will be celebrated at the 31st Annual Skokie Festival of Cultures, May 20 and 21 at Oakton Park, 4701 Oakton St., Skokie. Myrna Petlicki, Chicago Tribune, 15 May 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'celebrate.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English celebraten, borrowed from Latin celebrātus, past participle of celebrāre "to throng, frequent, observe (an occasion, festivity), praise" (probably originally back-formation from earlier concelebrāre "to frequent, honor"), derivative of celebr-, celeber "much used, frequented, widely known, famed," probably going back to *kelesri-, of uncertain origin

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of celebrate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near celebrate

Cite this Entry

“Celebrate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celebrate. Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


cel·​e·​brate ˈsel-ə-ˌbrāt How to pronounce celebrate (audio)
celebrated; celebrating
: to perform publicly and according to certain rules
celebrate Mass
: to observe in some special way (as by merrymaking or by staying away from work)
celebrate a birthday
celebrate Memorial Day
: to praise or make known publicly
her poetry celebrates the beauty of nature
celebration noun
celebrator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on celebrate

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