cel·​e·​brate ˈse-lə-ˌbrāt How to pronounce celebrate (audio)
celebrated; celebrating

transitive verb

: to perform (a sacrament or solemn ceremony) publicly and with appropriate rites
A priest celebrates Mass.
: to honor (an occasion, such as a holiday) especially by solemn ceremonies or by refraining from ordinary business
The nation celebrates Memorial Day.
: to mark (something, such as an anniversary) by festivities or other deviation from routine
celebrated their 25th anniversary
: to hold up or play up for public notice
her poetry celebrates the glory of nature

intransitive verb

: to observe a holiday, perform a religious ceremony, or take part in a festival
The holiday revelers celebrated all day long.
: to observe a notable occasion with festivities
decided the only way to celebrate was to have a party
celebration noun
celebrative adjective
celebrator noun
Choose the Right Synonym for celebrate

keep, observe, celebrate, commemorate mean to notice or honor a day, occasion, or deed.

keep stresses the idea of not neglecting or violating.

kept the Sabbath by refraining from work

observe suggests marking the occasion by ceremonious performance.

not all holidays are observed nationally

celebrate suggests acknowledging an occasion by festivity.

traditionally celebrates Thanksgiving with a huge dinner

commemorate suggests that an occasion is marked by observances that remind one of the origin and significance of the event.

commemorate Memorial Day with the laying of wreaths

Example Sentences

We are celebrating my birthday by going out to dinner. The family gathered to celebrate Christmas. We are celebrating our anniversary next week. They are celebrating the birth of their third child. The book celebrates the movies of the past. Her lecture celebrated the genius of the artist. He is celebrated for his contributions to modern science. A priest celebrates Mass at the church daily. See More
Recent Examples on the Web And there's even more reason to raise a glass and celebrate. Jennifer Hussein, Allure, 19 Nov. 2022 The coach told his team after the game to hold their heads high and celebrate their success. The Enquirer, 19 Nov. 2022 Emily Ratajkowski and Laura Harrier help Belvedere vodka celebrate the launch of its new global campaign starring Daniel Craig with an N.Y.C. takeover of Times Square and dinner at Lavan541 on Nov. 9. People Staff, Peoplemag, 19 Nov. 2022 Friends agreeing to gather at a restaurant and celebrate a milestone is not the same as an invitation to a soiree. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2022 Books that celebrate the art of how our world is made—sometimes brick by colorful brick. Wsj Books Staff, WSJ, 17 Nov. 2022 While some schools have very strict policies limiting the age and the class standings of people allowed to attend prom, others have a more lenient stipulation that allows juniors to celebrate in a hybrid, junior-senior style prom. Jasmine Washington, Seventeen, 17 Nov. 2022 Enjoy authentic stories that inspire and celebrate Black culture. Jacob Siegal, BGR, 16 Nov. 2022 And there are the sunglasses, those twentieth-century icons that both conceal and celebrate the wearer. Roxana Robinson, The New Yorker, 16 Nov. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'celebrate.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


Middle English celebraten, borrowed from Latin celebrātus, past participle of celebrāre "to throng, frequent, observe (an occasion, festivity), praise" (probably originally back-formation from earlier concelebrāre "to frequent, honor"), derivative of celebr-, celeber "much used, frequented, widely known, famed," probably going back to *kelesri-, of uncertain origin

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at transitive sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of celebrate was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near celebrate

Cite this Entry

“Celebrate.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celebrate. Accessed 1 Dec. 2022.

Kids Definition



cel·​e·​brate ˈsel-ə-ˌbrāt How to pronounce celebrate (audio)
celebrated; celebrating
: to perform publicly and according to certain rules
celebrate Mass
: to observe in some special way (as by merrymaking or by staying away from work)
celebrate a birthday
celebrate Memorial Day
: to praise or make known publicly
her poetry celebrates the beauty of nature
celebration noun
celebrator noun

More from Merriam-Webster on celebrate

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