AskDefine | Define traditional

Dictionary Definition

traditional adj
1 consisting of or derived from tradition; "traditional history"; "traditional morality" [ant: nontraditional]
2 pertaining to time-honored orthodox doctrines; "the simple security of traditional assumptions has vanished"

User Contributed Dictionary



  1. Of or pertaining to tradition; derived from tradition; communicated from ancestors to descendants by word only; transmitted from age to age without writing; as, traditional opinions; traditional customs; traditional expositions of the Scriptures.
  2. Observant of tradition; attached to old customs; old-fashioned.

Derived terms

Related terms


Of or pertaining to tradition
  • Finnish: perinteinen
  • German: traditionell
Observant of tradition
  • Finnish: vanhanaikainen
  • German: traditionell

Extensive Definition

The word tradition comes from the Latin word traditio which means "to hand down" or "to hand over." It is used in a number of ways in the English language:
  1. Beliefs or customs taught by one generation to the next, often orally. For example, we can speak of the tradition of sending birth announcements.
  2. A set of customs or practices. For example, we can speak of Christmas traditions.
  3. A broad religious movement made up of religious denominations or church bodies that have a common history, customs, culture, and, to some extent, body of teachings. For example, one can speak of Islam's Sufi tradition or Christianity's Lutheran tradition.
However, on a more basic theoretical level, tradition(s) can be seen as information or composed of information. For that which is brought into the present from the past, in a particular societal context, is information. This is even more fundamental than particular acts or practices even if repeated over a long sequence of time. For such acts or practices, once performed, disappear unless they have been transformed into some manner of communicable information.

Traditions and stylings of the mannerism

A tradition is a practice, custom, or story that is memorized and passed down from generation to generation, originally without the need for a writing system. Tools to aid this process include poetic devices such as rhyme and alliteration. The stories thus preserved are also referred to as tradition, or as part of an oral tradition.
Tradition is a knowledge system (a means of transferring knowledge). Economists Friedrich Hayek and Thomas Sowell explain that tradition is an economically efficient way to transfer and obtain knowledge of all kinds. Sowell, for example, notes that decision-making consumes time (a valuable resource), and cultural traditions offer a rich, low-cost, consensually authenticated way to economize on the resources required to make decisions independently.
Traditions are often presumed to be ancient, unalterable, and deeply important, though they may sometimes be much less "natural" than is presumed. Some traditions were deliberately invented for one reason or another, often to highlight or enhance the importance of a certain institution.Traditions may also be changed to suit the needs of the day, and the changes can become accepted as a part of the ancient tradition. A famous book on the subject is The Invention of Tradition, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger.
Some examples include "the invention of tradition" in Africa and other colonial holdings by the occupying forces. Requiring legitimacy, the colonial power would often invent a "tradition" which they could use to legitimize their own position. For example, a certain succession to a chiefdom might be recognized by a colonial power as traditional in order to favour their own candidates for the job. Often these inventions were based in some form of tradition, but were grossly exaggerated, distorted, or biased toward a particular interpretation.

Philosophical tradition

The idea of tradition is important in philosophy. 20th century and Contemporary Western philosophy is often divided between an "analytic" tradition, dominant in Anglophone and Scandinavian countries, and a "Continental" tradition, dominant in German and Romance-speaking Europe.


In the Roman Catholic Church, traditionalism is the doctrine that Sacred Tradition holds equal authority to Holy Scripture. In the Orthodox Church, scripture is considered to be the core constituent of a larger tradition. These views are often condemned as heretical by Protestant churches, who hold the Bible to be the only valid tradition. Inspired by the Protestant rejection of tradition, the Age of Enlightenment began to consider even the Bible itself as a questionable tradition. The parentage of liberalism stems from this such attack on accepted notions of European traditional institutions, religious belligerence, state interference and aristocratic privilege.
Traditionalism may also refer to the concept of a fundamental human tradition present in all orthodox religions and traditional forms of society. This view is put forward by the Traditionalist School.
Traditionalist Catholic refers to those, such as Archbishop Lefebvre, who want the worship and practices of the church to be as they were before the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
"Radical Traditionalism" refers to a worldview that stresses a return to traditional values of hard work, craftsmanship, local culture, tribal or clan orientation, and non-material values in response to a perceived excess of materialism, consumerism, technology, and societal homogeneity. Most Radical Traditionalists choose this term for themselves to stress their reaction to 'modern' society, as well as an equal disdain for more 'recent' forms of traditionalism based on Judeo-Christian and early-Industrial Age values. It is often allied with branches of Paganism that stress a return to old cultural values that predated the existence of the state system.
In Islam, traditionalism is the orthodox form, which places importance on traditional forms of learning and acknowledges different traditional schools of thought.
In addition, tradition never graduates.

Archaeological meaning

In archaeology a tradition is a set of cultures or industries which appear to develop on from one another over a period of time. The term is especially common in the study of American archaeology.

Rejection of tradition

Destruction is part of nature according to the German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche. Nietzsche claims that entities that reinterpret the world again and again are strong. That way sorrow and loss which is linked to trying to keep tradition can be avoided. Nietzsche wants his readers to open up and accept nature as it is in all its manyfold appearances. In order to be able to interpret nature it is mandatory to imagine. It is weak to claim that your imagination is the only truth. That could get you destroyed. A strong person is someone who is ready to change in order to avoid self-destruction.



  • Sowell, T (1980) Knowledge and Decisions Basic Books. ISBN 0-465-003738-0
  • Polanyi, M (1964) Personal Knowledge: Towards a Post-Critical Philosophy ISBN 0-226-67288-3
traditional in Arabic: تراث
traditional in Bengali: ঐতিহ্য
traditional in Bosnian: Tradicija
traditional in Breton: Hengoun
traditional in Bulgarian: Традиция
traditional in Chuvash: Йăла-йĕрке
traditional in Czech: Tradice
traditional in Danish: Tradition
traditional in German: Tradition
traditional in Estonian: Traditsioon
traditional in Spanish: Tradición
traditional in Esperanto: Tradicio
traditional in Persian: سنت
traditional in French: Tradition
traditional in Western Frisian: Tradysjes
traditional in Croatian: Tradicija
traditional in Indonesian: Tradisi
traditional in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Tradition
traditional in Italian: Tradizione
traditional in Hebrew: מסורת
traditional in Georgian: ტრადიცია
traditional in Ladino: Tradision
traditional in Latin: Traditiones
traditional in Hungarian: Hagyomány
traditional in Dutch: Traditie
traditional in Japanese: 伝統
traditional in Norwegian: Tradisjon
traditional in Norwegian Nynorsk: Tradisjon
traditional in Polish: Tradycja
traditional in Portuguese: Tradição
traditional in Russian: Традиция
traditional in Simple English: Tradition
traditional in Serbian: Традиција
traditional in Finnish: Perinne
traditional in Swedish: Tradition
traditional in Thai: ประเพณี
traditional in Ukrainian: Традиція
traditional in Yiddish: טראדיציע
traditional in Chinese: 传统

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

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