rit·​u·​al·​is·​tic ˌri-chə-wə-ˈli-stik How to pronounce ritualistic (audio)
: of, in accordance with, or characterized by the use of ritual: such as
: relating to or done as a ceremony or rite
a ritualistic dance
For Rick, the clincher came in 2001, when he discovered 20 identical trumpets, made from a type of conch shell … . The trumpets were highly decorated, indicating a ritualistic use.Michael Brooks
Ritualistic language (such as the oyez, oyez, oyez or hear ye, hear ye, hear ye that opens a court session) separates legal proceedings from ordinary life, marking them as being special and important.Peter Tiersma
: done in accordance with social custom or normal protocol
Bush made the ritualistic visits to polling places, making a last-minute bid for support in this intense and important contest.Jeanne Meserve
: of, relating to, or being an act or series of acts regularly repeated in a set precise manner
The repetitive nature of online tasks—checking e-mail, searching for data, sending replies—has a soothing, ritualistic quality … .Maia Szalavitz
: stressing the use of ritual forms : adhering to or devoted to ritualism
We can look at Stonehenge not only to envision the ancient, ritualistic people who built it, but also to imagine a version of ourselves closer to nature … according to Wisser.Jed Oelbaum
ˌri-chə-wə-ˈli-sti-k(ə-)lē How to pronounce ritualistic (audio)

Word History

First Known Use

1844, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of ritualistic was in 1844

Dictionary Entries Near ritualistic

Cite this Entry

“Ritualistic.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/ritualistic. Accessed 8 Feb. 2023.

More from Merriam-Webster on ritualistic

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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

The Great British Vocabulary Quiz

  • union jack speech bubble
  • Named after Sir Robert Peel, what are British police called?
True or False

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

Solve today's spelling word game by finding as many words as you can with using just 7 letters. Longer words score more points.

Can you make 12 words with 7 letters?