The Collaborative International Dictionary of English v.0.48:
Ceremony \Cer"e*mo*ny\, n.; pl. Ceremonies. [F.
c['e]r['e]monie, L. caerimonia; perh. akin to E. create and
from a root signifying to do or make.]
1. Ar act or series of acts, often of a symbolical character,
prescribed by law, custom, or authority, in the conduct of
important matters, as in the performance of religious
duties, the transaction of affairs of state, and the
celebration of notable events; as, the ceremony of
crowning a sovereign; the ceremonies observed in
consecrating a church; marriage and baptismal ceremonies.
According to all the rites of it, and according to
all the ceremonies thereof shall ye keep it [the
Passover]. --Numb. ix. 3
Bring her up the high altar, that she may
The sacred ceremonies there partake. --Spenser.
[The heralds] with awful ceremony
And trumpet's sound, throughout the host proclaim
A solemn council. --Milton.
2. Behavior regulated by strict etiquette; a formal method of
performing acts of civility; forms of civility prescribed
by custom or authority.
Ceremony was but devised at first
To set a gloss on . . . hollow welcomes . . .
But where there is true friendship there needs none.
Al ceremonies are in themselves very silly things;
but yet a man of the world should know them.
3. A ceremonial symbols; an emblem, as a crown, scepter,
garland, etc. [Obs.]
Disrobe the images,
If you find them decked with ceremonies.
. . . Let no images
Be hung with C[ae]sar's trophies. --Shak.
4. A sign or prodigy; a portent. [Obs.]
C[ae]sar, I never stood on ceremonies,
Yet, now they fright me. --Shak.
Master of ceremonies, an officer who determines the forms
to be observed, or superintends their observance, on a
Not to stand on ceremony, not to be ceremonious; to be
familiar, outspoken, or bold.