tra·​di·​tion | \ trə-ˈdi-shən How to pronounce tradition (audio) \

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

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Other Words from tradition

traditionless \ trə-​ˈdi-​shən-​ləs How to pronounce traditionless (audio) \ 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web The 94-year tradition continues without street-side spectators and marching bands, but with plenty of ornate floats, humongous balloons and Broadway performers – plus Santa Claus, of course. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of Nov. 22-28," 23 Nov. 2020 Capital and labor need each other in a way that dynamism and tradition do not. Christopher Caldwell, The New Republic, "The Biden Popular Front Is Doomed to Unravel," 23 Nov. 2020 No zoning law or building tradition connects the rajah’s palace on twelve to the Shinto shrine on twenty-four. Burkhard Bilger, The New Yorker, "The Art of Building the Impossible," 23 Nov. 2020 No doggies in the window as Christmas tradition goes virtual at Macy’s Union Square in San Francisco. Anna Buchmann,, "Bay Briefing: SFO holiday travel heats up as Bay Area curfews kick in," 23 Nov. 2020 Count Thanksgiving as the latest victim of 2020, another tradition that once unified the country and has been reduced to a stressful dividing line. New York Times, "Coronavirus Upends Thanksgiving for Many, While Others Ignore Warnings," 22 Nov. 2020 David La Vaque and Jim Paulsen decided to revive that tradition, dormant since Moorhead's selection in 1971, by weighing the cases for the Cougars, Eagles and Irish to name a Class 6A mythical champ. David La Vaque, Star Tribune, "OK, we'll pick a champion: With no Prep Bowl, Star Tribune writers name a mythical Class 6A football winner," 22 Nov. 2020 Concessions amount to a political tradition in the U.S., in which the losing candidate either gives a public speech encouraging his or her supporters to back the winner, while offering a finality to a campaign. al, "Concede nothing: Trump’s actions have played out before in Alabama politics," 21 Nov. 2020 The holiday tradition returns, with pandemic safety precautions in place., "Christmas movie guide: Where and when you can find holiday shows, from Hallmark movies to 'It's a Wonderful Life'," 21 Nov. 2020

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.

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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

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Time Traveler for tradition

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for tradition

Last Updated

25 Nov 2020

Cite this Entry

“Tradition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 26 Nov. 2020.

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More Definitions for tradition


How to pronounce tradition (audio)

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 How to pronounce tradition (audio) \

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

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