Definition of ablution in US English:



usually ablutions
formal, humorous
  • 1The act of washing oneself (often used for humorously formal effect)

    ‘the women performed their ablutions’
    • ‘Most of us give little thought to what we're washing down the drain and flushing down the toilet as we go about our daily ablutions.’
    • ‘The daily routine started early in the morning with ablutions followed by a meagre breakfast at eight o'clock then back in the cell until they were served a plateful of dinner at about four o'clock.’
    • ‘Dominic whistled cheerfully as he strode along his worn path to the stream where he performed his daily ablutions.’
    • ‘At the top of the building, the glass roof of the children's shower can be opened at the touch of a switch for open-air ablutions or access to a rooftop terrace.’
    • ‘David wandered into the bathroom to perform his morning ablutions and all I heard was ‘Oh my God'. I went dashing in and saw what his oh my godding was about.’
    • ‘Start the download of morning news while I perform morning ablutions.’
    • ‘When I was done she wrapped my shoulders in a towel, and then performed her own quick ablutions as Alice and I finished drying ourselves.’
    • ‘For your 500 Euros a night you get, in addition to an extremely cold and uncomfortable bed (albeit with furs), a room in a nearby proper hotel for ablutions.’
    • ‘On the wires overhead a cheerful community of young swallows were chattering and performing their evening ablutions, stretching one wing out at a time, as far as it would reach, and preening the feathers.’
    • ‘Alarmingly, I have experienced a number of electrical shocks whilst performing my morning ablutions close by to the tiny bulbs.’
    • ‘So you need not panic if you ingest a little during your morning ablutions.’
    • ‘Our daily lives are being planned around when we can perform our ablutions and eat; an army-style shower is now becoming our treat du jour.’
    • ‘He had emerged from his fairly elaborate morning ablutions looking ashen-faced.’
    • ‘Once, while demonstrating how it worked, the bath was wheeled in complete with his wife at her ablutions.’
    • ‘Taylor sighed, running a hand through her hair before she slipped into some pyjamas and jumped straight into bed, too worn and puzzled and happy and upset to bother with her ablutions.’
    • ‘As I was rounding off my weekly ablutions in the bath today, I reached for the pumice stone to scrub my soles.’
    • ‘When he works in Hampshire, he has to get out of bed at 0530, perform the necessary ablutions, down a coffee and leave the house at 0600.’
    • ‘As far as I'm concerned, if a spider is in the bath you must remain absolutely silent when going about your ablutions otherwise it will launch itself into the air and latch onto your head.’
    • ‘She has all her life been opposed to human interference where her ablutions are concerned and age has not dimmed her memory of the purpose of brush and comb.’
    • ‘I woke up this morning with a strange feeling of premonition; I pondered over it for a while and then carried on with the usual morning ablutions.’
    washing, cleansing, bathing, showering, scrubbing, purification
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 A ceremonial act of washing parts of the body or sacred containers.
      • ‘We are ordered to make ablution before prayer, and also to make sure that our places of prayer are free of contamination and filth.’
      • ‘Muslims pray 5 times a day at specific times, and they perform ablutions (wash up) before they pray.’
      • ‘At lunchtime, bearded students perform their ablutions along a long row of taps before going off to pray.’
      • ‘During the lunch break I went to the bathroom to perform an ablution for the Zuhar prayers but in the Western style bathroom it was not a very feasible idea.’
      • ‘While Abas was putting on his shirt after performing the ablutions for the afternoon prayer, he was surprised to see a new prayer mat spread neatly on his bed.’
      • ‘He may practice Divine knowledge, meditation, pilgrimages, and ablutions.’
      • ‘They gave me good food with fruit and water for ablutions and prayer.’
      • ‘Part of the Islamic tradition is to set strict rules for ablutions, washing hands, arms, face and feet with running water before praying.’
      • ‘Familiar river scenes are shown as the boat ride progresses, such as a cow carcass floating in the river, the renowned cremation ghats and locals, as well as pilgrims, performing ritual ablutions.’
      • ‘Lessons about the Arabic alphabet, examples of Islamic art, and depictions of basic Muslim acts of worship, such as ablutions for prayer, are featured throughout.’
      • ‘Interestingly enough, the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) also encouraged doing ablution before going to bed.’
      • ‘Along one wall men sat on marble blocks in front of taps for people to perform their ablutions - washing feet, arms up to the elbow, rinsing nose and eyes - in preparation for prayer.’
      • ‘Hassane and most of the competitors sheepishly made their way over to El Hadji's open-air mosque to perform their ablutions and prayers.’
      • ‘Prayers are to be made in the direction of Mecca and must be carried out in a state of ritual purity, achieved by either ritual ablutions or a bath.’
      • ‘Abdel-Wahed was in the yard doing his ablutions before prayers when a sniper bullet hit him.’
      • ‘Moreover, the several marble basins that were found in the building, and that might have formed part of its furnishings in the last phase and perhaps even in previous phases, could have held water for ritual ablutions.’
      • ‘At last he went to the palace one day, and, being informed that the Caliph was making his ablutions prior to his prayers, sat down in an antechamber.’
      • ‘She would have been down there taking a ceremonial ablution and praying to the river god Hapi, who was also the god of fertility.’
      • ‘He applied sandal paste on his forehead and wore the sacred thread across his body and was rigorous in the ablutions before prayers.’
      • ‘Most religions practice ritual ablution, or bathing - though only Hinduism by the millions at once.’


Late Middle English: from Latin ablutio(n-), from abluere, from ab- ‘away’ + luere ‘wash’. The original use was as a term in chemistry and alchemy meaning ‘purification by using liquids’, hence ‘purification of the body by washing’ (mid 16th century).