tra·​di·​tion trə-ˈdi-shən How to pronounce tradition (audio)
: an inherited, established, or customary pattern of thought, action, or behavior (such as a religious practice or a social custom)
: 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
: the handing down of information, beliefs, and customs by word of mouth or by example from one generation to another without written instruction
: cultural continuity in social attitudes, customs, and institutions
: characteristic manner, method, or style
in the best liberal tradition
traditionless 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 Get decorating inspiration for trees, tabletops, and more from the Victorian era's interiors and Christmas traditions. Kristina McGuirk, Better Homes & Gardens, 16 Nov. 2023 We are introduced to the building blocks of various music traditions, such as the raga and tala in Indian classical music. John Check, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2023 Morris dancing, an English folk form with origins in the 15th century, is opening up to younger dancers who approach it as a living tradition. Gia Kourlas, New York Times, 15 Nov. 2023 That may mean doing things a little differently than your great-grandma did, but that is not an affront to her or your family traditions. Ellie Krieger, Washington Post, 15 Nov. 2023 From Easter celebration get togethers to summer cookouts and year-end holiday dinners, the act of gathering with food amongst kin is a ritualistic tradition amongst Black families. Chanda Reynolds, Essence, 15 Nov. 2023 Fans will be able to tune into Christmas at Graceland immediately after NBC’s long-running holiday tradition, the annual tree-lighting event and special Christmas in Rockefeller Center. Sadie Bell, Peoplemag, 15 Nov. 2023 An erasure of elements to reveal something hidden but meaningful in our culture, in the tradition of Robert Rauschenberg famously erasing a Willem De Kooning drawing? (Christian Capurro ) The player’s arms are extended like a crucifixion. Christopher Knight, Los Angeles Times, 15 Nov. 2023 Ask her for ideas about creative Thanksgiving table settings, nontraditional door decorations, or starting holiday traditions with kids. Jura Koncius, Washington Post, 9 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'tradition.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near tradition

Cite this Entry

“Tradition.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Kids Definition


tra·​di·​tion trə-ˈdish-ən How to pronounce tradition (audio)
: the handing down of information, beliefs, or customs from one generation to another
: a belief or custom handed down by tradition

Middle English tradicioun "tradition," from early French tradicion (same meaning) and Latin tradition-, traditio "the action of handing over, tradition," — related to treason see Word History at treason

Legal Definition


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

French, legal transfer

More from Merriam-Webster on tradition

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!