Both words mean "ceremony". What is the difference in meaning and usage between them? Given that the latter term is formed by two kanji, I would assume that it has a more formal tone than the former, but it's a very weak guess.

UPDATE for context, I came across the word in the following sentence:


2 Answers 2


儀式 is more like "ritual" and typically refers to something associated with religion or indigenous beliefs. Some 儀式 to call rain or curse someone may be done alone. Events held in developed countries in connection with things like graduations, inductions, and awarding are normally called 式 or 式典. For example, 入社式 is a common event held in any big company, but 入社の儀式 sounds like you're entering a cult or a crime syndicate, and you may even be told to offer your blood or have a special tattoo.

Things like a Christian wedding ceremony or Pope's coronation ceremony can be called both 儀式 and 式/式典, but 儀式 sounds more religious or "ritualistic".


This thesaurus entry says:



式 emphasizes the aspect of event while 儀式 refers to what happens during a 式 following a defined procedure (or the procedure/protocol itself).

Most ceremonies like wedding or graduation assume some general agenda, but it is not considered as a protocol. So those are generally 結婚式, 卒業式 etc.

On the other hand, an exchange of rings or drinking Sake in a specific way (in traditional Shito style weddings) can be called a 儀式.

Borderline cases are those that are extremely solemn like inheriting a throne or abdication, which I assume require a very specific procedure. These ceremonies themselves are definitely 式(典), but could be called 儀式 as well.

I'm not at all familiar, but as another example, communion can be a 式 as an event, but the act of receiving the bread is definitely a 儀式.


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