• (RP) IPA: /ˈsɛɹɪməni/
  • (GA) IPA: /ˈsɛɹəmoʊni/

ceremony (plural ceremonies)

  1. A ritual, with religious or cultural significance.
    • 1596, Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene, London: William Ponsonbie, Book Six, Canto 8, pp. 463-464,
      To whom the Priest with naked armes full net
      Approching nigh, and murdrous knife well whet,
      Gan mutter close a certaine secret charme,
      With other diuelish ceremonies met:
    • 1611, King James Version of the Bible, Book of Numbers 9:3,
      In the fourteenth day of this month, at even, ye shall keep [the passover] in his appointed season: according to all the rites of it, and according to all the ceremonies thereof, shall ye keep it.
    • 1881, Henry James, The Portrait of a Lady, London: Macmillan, Volume I, Chapter 1, p. 1,
      Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea.
  2. An official gathering to celebrate, commemorate, or otherwise mark some event.
    a graduation ceremony, an opening ceremony
  3. (uncountable) A formal socially established behaviour, often in relation to people of different ranks; formality.
    • c. 1605, William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act III, Scene 4,
      […] to feed were best at home;
      From thence the sauce to meat is ceremony;
      Meeting were bare without it.
    • 1928, W. Somerset Maugham, “Miss King” in Ashenden: Or the British Agent, New York: Avon, 1943, p. 37,
      Monsieur Bridet, notwithstanding his costume and his evident harrassment, found in himself the presence of mind to remain the attentive manager, and with ceremony effected the proper introduction.
    • 1959, C. S. Forester, The Last Nine Days of the Bismarck, London: Michael Joseph,
      They went into the bars and interrupted the drinking, hustling the men out without ceremony.
  4. (uncountable) Show of magnificence, display, ostentation.
    • 1674, John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I, lines 752-756,[https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Paradise_Lost_(1674)/Book_I]
      Meanwhile the winged Heralds, by command
      Of sovereign power, with awful ceremony
      And trumpet’s sound, throughout the host proclaim
      A solemn council forthwith to be held
      At Pandemonium […]
    • 1829, Washington Irving, A Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada, Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Carey, Volume II, Chapter 46, p. 254,
      Immediately after her arrival, the queen rode forth to survey the camp and its environs: wherever she went, she was attended by a splendid retinue; and all the commanders vied with each other, in the pomp and ceremony with which they received her.
  5. (obsolete) An accessory or object associated with a ritual.
    • c. 1598, William Shakespeare, Henry V (play), Act IV, Scene 1,
      […] his ceremonies laid by, in his nakedness he appears but a man […]
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, Act II, Scene 2,
      […] Well, believe this,
      No ceremony that to great ones ’longs,
      Not the king’s crown, nor the deputed sword,
      The marshal’s truncheon, nor the judge’s robe,
      Become them with one half so good a grace
      As mercy does.
  6. (obsolete) An omen or portent.
    • c. 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (play), Act II, Scene 1,
      For he is superstitious grown of late,
      Quite from the main opinion he held once
      Of fantasy, of dreams, and ceremonies.
    • c. 1599, William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar (play), Act II, Scene 2,
      Caesar, I never stood on ceremonies,
      Yet now they fright me.
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