1. The passing down of elements of a culture from generation to generation, especially by oral communication: cultural practices that are preserved by tradition.
a. A mode of thought or behavior followed by a people continuously from generation to generation; a custom or usage: the traditions of Tibetan Buddhism.
b. A set of such customs and usages viewed as a coherent body of precedents influencing the present: followed family tradition in dress and manners. See Synonyms at heritage.
3. A precept or a body of precepts that are not written in the sacred book of a religion, such as the Bible, but are considered holy or true.
4. A style or method of an activity or practice, especially of artistic expression, that is recognized and sometimes imitated: satire in the tradition of Jonathan Swift.
5. A piece of folklore: "a popular medieval tradition that identified the queen of Sheba with the Blessed Virgin Mary" (Nicholas Clapp).
[Middle English tradicioun, from Old French, from Latin trāditiō, trāditiōn-, from trāditus, past participle of trādere, to hand over, deliver, entrust : trā-, trāns-, trans- + dare, to give; see dō- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.