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cer·​e·​mo·​ni·​al ˌser-ə-ˈmō-nē-əl How to pronounce ceremonial (audio)
: marked by, involved in, or belonging to ceremony : stressing careful attention to form and detail
ceremonial rites
: having no real power or influence
his new position is largely ceremonial
ceremonialism noun
ceremonialist noun
ceremonially adverb


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: a ceremonial act, action, or system
Choose the Right Synonym for ceremonial

ceremonial, ceremonious, formal, conventional mean marked by attention to or adhering strictly to prescribed forms.

ceremonial and ceremonious both imply strict attention to what is prescribed by custom or by ritual, but ceremonial applies to things that are associated with ceremonies

a ceremonial offering

, ceremonious to persons given to ceremony or to acts attended by ceremony.

made his ceremonious entrance

formal applies both to things prescribed by and to persons obedient to custom and may suggest stiff, restrained, or old-fashioned behavior.

a formal report
the headmaster's formal manner

conventional implies accord with general custom and usage

conventional courtesy

and may suggest a stodgy lack of originality or independence.

conventional fiction

Examples of ceremonial in a Sentence

Adjective The tribe has different ceremonial masks for each ceremony. His new position is largely ceremonial because all the decisions are actually made by a committee. Noun a number of religious ceremonials the funeral of a pope is usually marked by rich pageantry and elaborate ceremonials
Recent Examples on the Web
Tribes also have begun to conduct more cultural burns for both ceremonial purposes and for wider ecosystem benefits. oregonlive, 18 Sep. 2023 Chilkat weavings have major ceremonial and cultural significance. Chris Bieri, Anchorage Daily News, 15 Sep. 2023 And, although Minhaj did very publicly criticize Kushner at the Time 100 Gala for the Trump Administration’s feeble response to Saudi human-rights violations, there was no ceremonial seat set aside for an activist, let alone one that Kushner sat in. Clare Malone, The New Yorker, 15 Sep. 2023 Last month, former Ravens star Ed Reed threw out a ceremonial first pitch. Jeff Barker, Baltimore Sun, 13 Sep. 2023 If impeached, Biden would almost certainly be acquitted by the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats, though the move is being seen as largely ceremonial (and, some critics say, retaliatory for Donald Trump's impeachments). Virginia Chamlee, Peoplemag, 12 Sep. 2023 So her office arranged a second, entirely ceremonial signing a few weeks later at Hidden Treasure Christian School, an evangelical academy for children with disabilities in the heart of South Carolina’s conservative Upstate region. Lisa Lerer, New York Times, 9 Sep. 2023 The Bruins’ Milan Lucic was on hand to toss out the ceremonial first pitch. Julian McWilliams, BostonGlobe.com, 8 Sep. 2023 Both of the days that introduced us to September seemed suited to a ceremonial role, filled with environmental glory, brilliant sunshine and warmth still suggestive of summertime. Martin Weil, Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2023
Nothing ceremonial marked the reopening, but a parking lot memorial stood as a reminder of the recent tragedy. Brittny Mejia, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2023 He’s aided in this regard by DP Khalid Mohtaseb’s artfully dank lensing in shades of green and gold and gunge, and the shrieking ceremonials of Jed Kurzel’s suitably unrestrained score. Guy Lodge, Variety, 7 Apr. 2023 Why Frank Jackson had held that ceremonial? Laura Johnston, cleveland, 25 Aug. 2022 The activism goes beyond the ceremonial. Phil Taylor, The Christian Science Monitor, 23 Nov. 2020 Matchaful's Kiwami single cultivar ceremonial matcha is perfect for those who want the best possible flavor and quality — as well as an energizing drink. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 1 Mar. 2022 There are three main types of matcha tea ceremonial, culinary, and matcha latte. Amber Smith, Discover Magazine, 3 Mar. 2022 The British empire soon crumbled, but Elizabeth managed to maintain a regal — if ceremonial — position as the head of the Commonwealth, the 54 nations of mostly previous British colonies. Andrew Meldrum, ajc, 9 Sep. 2022 There are at least two reasons for this: adding the retail margin to boost profits and controlling the selling ceremonial in stores. Stéphane Jg Girod, Forbes, 31 Jan. 2022 See More

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

Word History

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


circa 1679, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of ceremonial was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near ceremonial

Cite this Entry

“Ceremonial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ceremonial. Accessed 21 Sep. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 adjective
cer·​e·​mo·​ni·​al ˌser-ə-ˈmō-nē-əl How to pronounce ceremonial (audio)
: of, relating to, or forming a ceremony
ceremonialism noun
ceremonialist noun
ceremonially adverb
ceremonialness noun


2 of 2 noun
: a ceremonial act, action, or system

More from Merriam-Webster on ceremonial

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