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

Here's the scoop: Back in the 19th and 20th centuries, people rang in the first of May with a particularly charming and elegant tradition. Jessica Leigh Mattern, Country Living, "Do You Remember May Basket Day?," 30 Apr. 2019 The move to Morocco is keeping with the brand’s tradition of taking special collections on the road, too. Brooke Bobb, Vogue, "Take a Trip Around The World in 13 Dior Shows," 28 Apr. 2019 The event was a break with royal tradition, as most Kensington Palace moms-to-be don't have baby showers. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "The Palace Reportedly Warned Meghan Markle About Throwing a ‘Flashy Baby Shower’," 29 Mar. 2019 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte named a political ally to head the central bank, breaking with a tradition of neutral appointments there and adding to concerns about the independence of the country’s institutions. Jake Maxwell Watts, WSJ, "Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Goes His Own Way With Central-Bank Appointment," 5 Mar. 2019 First, former President Barack Obama broke with tradition to criticize his successor. William Lajeunesse, Fox News, "Michelle Obama launches 'get-out-the-vote effort,' insists it's 'nonpartisan'," 24 Sep. 2018 As was expected, Prince Louis’s christening on Monday was packed with royal tradition, from his hand-me-down gown to the 7-year-old cake. Maura Hohman,, "The Hidden, Sentimental Meaning Behind the Songs at Prince Louis' Christening," 9 July 2018 But her son Prince Charles has also taken it upon himself to start new royal traditions. Caroline Hallemann, Town & Country, "Ahead of Easter, Prince Charles Publishes a Message of Hope," 19 Apr. 2019 Secondly, much like Hilda and Zelda and the rest of the witches, I was raised on the Church’s beliefs and traditions. Jasmine Arielle Ting, Teen Vogue, ""Chilling Adventures of Sabrina" Shows That There's Power in Questioning Your Religion," 5 Apr. 2019

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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Statistics for tradition

Last Updated

8 May 2019

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Time Traveler for tradition

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

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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 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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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).


something valued as if it were money

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