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 Roman Catholic Church is rooted in tradition and hierarchy., "Reverence and resistance in one of Portland’s oldest Catholic churches," 11 Aug. 2019 Jewish tradition also maintains that Jews should avoid entering the holy site. NBC News, "Muslim worshippers clash with Israeli police at Jerusalem holy site," 11 Aug. 2019 The weekend braided two American traditions of spectacle and sorrow in sometimes jarring ways. Jess Bidgood,, "Elizabeth Warren circles in Iowa as Joe Biden stumbles," 10 Aug. 2019 Like some at the parade, the Dailey family has built traditions around the yearly event. Madeline Buckley,, "Crowds flock to Bud Billiken Parade on 90th anniversary: 'It means community’," 10 Aug. 2019 Rugby: Australia vs New Zealand An 85-year tradition continues Saturday when Australia and New Zealand face off for the Bledisloe Cup. Olivia Conte And Jill Martin, CNN, "Weekend sports lineup: Simone Biles, Christian Pulisic -- and still no Ezekiel Elliott," 9 Aug. 2019 Earlier this year, the Alaska Republican Party finished codifying internal rules for that tradition. James Brooks, Anchorage Daily News, "With senator’s death, Alaska Legislature loses prominent voice in favor of lower dividend," 9 Aug. 2019 The contenders will each have 20 minutes to sell their candidacies to the voters in Iowa, by tradition the first nation to hold a nominating contest. CBS News, "2020 presidential candidates speak at the Iowa State Fair," 9 Aug. 2019 Dora falls into that grand cinematic tradition of brave naïfs who embark on big adventures (see: Herman, Pee-wee). San Diego Union-Tribune, "Review: ‘Dora and the Lost City of Gold’ gives us the Latinx heroine we need right now," 8 Aug. 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

14 Aug 2019

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Time Traveler for tradition

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

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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).


a haphazard or makeshift solution

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