a formal or ceremonial act or procedure prescribed or customary in religious or other solemn use: rites of baptism; sacrificial rites.
a particular form or system of religious or other ceremonial practice: the Roman rite.
(often initial capital letter) one of the historical versions of the Eucharistic service: the Anglican Rite.
(often initial capital letter) liturgy.
(sometimes initial capital letter) Eastern Church, Western Church. a division or differentiation of churches according to liturgy.
any customary observance or practice: the rite of afternoon tea.

1275–1325; Middle English (< Old French rit(e)) < Latin rītus

riteless, adjective
ritelessness, noun

right, rite, wright, write.

1. observance, form, usage. See ceremony.
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
rite (raɪt)
1.  a formal act or procedure prescribed or customary in religious ceremonies: fertility rites; the rite of baptism
2.  a particular body of such acts or procedures, esp of a particular Christian Church: the Latin rite
3.  a Christian Church: the Greek rite
[C14: from Latin rītus religious ceremony]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
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Word Origin & History

early 14c., from L. ritus "religious observance or ceremony, custom, usage," perhaps from PIE base *re(i)- "to count, number" (cf. Gk. arithmos "number," O.E. rim "number"). Rite of passage (1909) is translated from Fr. rite de passage, coined by French anthropologist Arnold van Gennep (18731957).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Encyclopedia Britannica


the performance of ceremonial acts prescribed by tradition or by sacerdotal decree. Ritual is a specific, observable mode of behaviour exhibited by all known societies. It is thus possible to view ritual as a way of defining or describing humans.

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Encyclopedia Britannica, 2008. Encyclopedia Britannica Online.
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Example sentences
We should also acknowledge that losing professors need not be an inevitable
  rite of spring.
Traditional marriage has evolved from a near-universal rite to a luxury for the
  educated and affluent.
Hospital surgeries reduce the infection rate, but many boys opt for the old
It is an annual rite that has sustained wildlife ranging from bears to bald
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