Ceremonial vs ceremonious

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Ceremonial means being used for or relating to a formal ritual or event. Ceremonial may also mean a position that bestows only nominal authority or power. Ceremonial is an adjective, a word that modifies a noun. Ceremonial comes from the Latin, caerimonia which means religious worship.

Ceremonious means pertaining to or appropriate for a formal ritual or event. Ceremonious may also mean overly polite. Ceremonious is an adjective, a word that modifies a noun. Ceremonious comes the French cérémonieux.

Ceremonial and ceremonious are often used interchangeably, however the word ceremonial should be used when talking about the performance of a ceremony. Ceremonious is usually used to denote formal behavior that is not connected to an actual ceremony.


For more than 50 years, the Band of the Ceremonial Guard and its pipes and drums have been known for its part in the Changing of the Guard ceremony on Parliament Hill. (Prince Albert Daily Herald)

The wife of beloved late Yankees bench coach Don Zimmer said a ceremonial jersey, given to her by the Bombers, was swiped out of her Florida-bound checked luggage. (The New York Post)

After a ceremonious ribbon cutting, appropriately done by a group of neighborhood kids, the fun began. (The Chicago Tribune)

But my goodness, this business in the village, while certainly happy and more or less relaxed (for everyone but Gökçen and her mom), was so full of ceremonious greetings and ritual pecking order that I was, once more, totally out of my league; I just sat there where they put me, on the big balcony, and did the best I could. (Today’s Zaman)

Whether or not the band’s ceremonious exit represents a cheapening of the brand, it has certainly been heavily marketed. (The New York Times)

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