\ˈrīt \

Definition of rite 

1a : a prescribed form or manner governing the words or actions for a ceremony

b : the ceremonial practices of a church or group of churches

2 : a ceremonial act or action initiation rites

3 : a division of the Christian church using a distinctive liturgy

Keep scrolling for more

Examples of rite in a Sentence

Incense is often burned in their religious rites. the annual summer rite of loading up the car for the big family vacation

Recent Examples on the Web

The Journal’s sports columnist Jason Gay says the 32-year-old Spaniard has turned winning the tournament into less of an accomplishment than an annual rite. WSJ, "The 10-Point.," 11 June 2018 Unlike their Mesolithic foraging predecessors, the LBK people established permanent settlements and practiced elaborate funeral rites. Meilan Solly, Smithsonian, "7,000-Year-Old German Grave Shows New Side of Neolithic Brutality," 11 July 2018 The San Antonio region, though, will still get the maze-like warehouse store filled with Billy bookcases, Lack tables and rite-of-passage furniture. Joshua Fechter, San Antonio Express-News, "Ikea still plans to open San Antonio-area store after pulling out of North Carolina location," 25 May 2018 The rite will begin with a procession at 9:45 a.m., followed by Mass at 10 a.m. at the 1545 Tremont St. church. Elise Takahama, BostonGlobe.com, "Cardinal Sean O’Malley to ordain 7 priests for Boston Archdiocese," 18 May 2018 As with any rite that is repeated at regular intervals, even for an event so consequential, the speeches began to seem rote. Jelani Cobb, The New Yorker, "William Barber Takes on Poverty and Race in the Age of Trump," 7 May 2018 Some 2,000 20-year-olds in rite-of-passage ceremonial dress had gathered, along with their parents and a few TV crews, to unleash arrows at targets at the far end of the temple, re-enacting a 16th-century samurai competition. Alex Postman, Condé Nast Traveler, "A Mother and Son Search for Zen in Kyoto," 29 Mar. 2018 Marion County, about an hour north of Columbus, does not treat its fair as a summertime rite of a bygone era. New York Times, "Trade Politics Comes to the County Fair," 9 July 2018 As the #MeToo movement has gained momentum, the competition has increasingly looked like a rite from some other America where blatant objectification is openly accepted. Rafia Zakaria, The New Republic, "The Feminist Future of Modesty," 12 June 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rite.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

See More

First Known Use of rite

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for rite

Middle English, from Latin ritus; akin to Greek arithmos number — more at arithmetic

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rite

Phrases Related to rite

initiation rite

the last rites

Statistics for rite

Last Updated

4 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rite

The first known use of rite was in the 14th century

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rite



English Language Learners Definition of rite

: an act that is part of a usually religious ceremony


\ˈrīt \

Kids Definition of rite

: an act performed in a ceremony

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on rite

What made you want to look up rite? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


evasion of direct action or statement

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Great Scrabble Words—A Quiz

  • scrabble-tiles-that-read-scrabble-quiz
  • Which of the following Q-without-U words means the number five in cards or dice?
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!