tra·​di·​tion | \trə-ˈdi-shən \

Definition of tradition 

1a : an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)

b : a belief or story or a body of beliefs or stories relating to the past that are commonly accepted as historical though not verifiable … the bulk of traditions attributed to the Prophet …— J. L. Esposito

2 : the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction

3 : cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions

4 : characteristic manner, method, or style in the best liberal tradition

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from tradition

traditional \trə-​ˈdish-​nəl, -​ˈdi-​shə-​nᵊl \ adjective
traditionally adverb
traditionless \trə-​ˈdi-​shən-​ləs \ adjective

Examples of tradition in a Sentence

One of our town's time-honored traditions is to have an Easter egg hunt the week before Easter. It is their tradition to give thanks before they start eating. There's an office tradition of wearing casual clothes on Fridays. They no longer follow the traditions of their ancestors. We broke with tradition and had goose for Thanksgiving instead of turkey. By tradition, the celebration begins at midnight. They no longer follow tradition. According to tradition, the goddess lies sleeping beneath the mountain.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

For some, being close to family and basking in the holiday traditions that their deceased loved ones appreciated is comforting. Dixie Lincoln-nichols, SELF, "5 Ways I Learned to Deal With Grief During the Holidays," 21 Nov. 2018 The holiday, which is believed to have been started in the 1990s as a way for men in colleges to celebrate being single, was turned into a shopping event in 2009 by Alibaba’s Jack Ma and has since become an annual tradition. Shannon Liao, The Verge, "The best deals from Alibaba’s Singles Day," 10 Nov. 2018 Chesapeake, Virginia, has instituted an age limit on the Halloween tradition, CBS News reports. Megan Friedman, House Beautiful, "A Town in Virginia Has Set A Strict Age Limit For Trick-or-Treaters," 11 Oct. 2018 Wearing these costumes perpetuates the misguided belief about what the tradition means. Mekita Rivas, Allure, "Fashion Nova's "Sexy" Geisha Costume Is Everything Not to Wear on Halloween This Year," 3 Oct. 2018 By tradition, Benchmark partners typically step back from day-to-day investing at age 50 — Cohler, though, is only 41. Theodore Schleifer, Recode, "One of the most successful investors in Silicon Valley, Matt Cohler, will step back at Benchmark," 1 Oct. 2018 The tradition has been going on since the film was released back in 1998. Jelani Addams Rosa, Seventeen, ""Halloweentown" Is a Real Place You Can Visit!," 17 Aug. 2018 The pet blessing has become a tradition at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church in Park Ridge, and a church official said a talk with one participant at the July 8 event drove home its importance. Staff Report,, "Pet blessing also brings cheer to 'owners and lovers of the animals' at Park Ridge church," 10 July 2018 For Mexico, getting knocked out in the World Cup’s round of 16 has become a tradition. Gustavo Solis,, "San Diegans watch Mexico get eliminated from World Cup," 2 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'tradition.' 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 tradition

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

History and Etymology for tradition

Middle English tradicioun, from Middle French & Latin; Middle French tradicion, from Latin tradition-, traditio action of handing over, tradition — more at treason

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about tradition

Statistics for tradition

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for tradition

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for tradition



English Language Learners Definition of tradition

: a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time

: the stories, beliefs, etc., that have been part of the culture of a group of people for a long time

—used to say that someone has qualities which are like the qualities of another well-known person or group of people from the past


tra·​di·​tion | \trə-ˈdi-shən \

Kids Definition of tradition

1 : the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another

2 : a belief or custom handed down from one generation to another



Legal Definition of tradition 

in the civil law of Louisiana : transfer or acquisition of property especially by delivery with intent of both parties to transfer the title delivery of the act of transfer or use of the right by the owner of the dominant estate constitutes traditionLouisiana Civil Code

History and Etymology for tradition

French, legal transfer

Keep scrolling for more

Comments on tradition

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


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Late Autumn 2018 Words of the Day Quiz

  • frosted-autumn-leaves
  • Which is a synonym of yahoo?
True or False

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


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!