I know there is a certain word which could describe rituals/habits which are being practiced despite the fact they lost their original purpose. I saw it in context of practicing some religious rituals.

  • It's not floccinaucinihilipilification".
  • It's not shibboleth.

The practice itself is called a shibboleth (in one of its senses; 1c.2 below):

shibboleth (ˈʃɪbəˌlɛθ) n

  1. a belief, principle, or practice which is commonly adhered to but which is thought by some people to be inappropriate or out of date
  2. a custom, phrase, or use of language that acts as a test of belonging to, or as a stumbling block to becoming a member of, a particular social class, profession, etc

[C14: from Hebrew, literally: ear of grain; the word is used in the Old Testament by the Gileadites as a test word for the Ephraimites, who could not pronounce the sound sh]

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003

I wouldn't recommend that you verb it.

  • hm... that sounds like the thing I'm looking for, but the word was something else. I'll try to update my question. Thanks anyway .) Feb 9 '15 at 11:40
  • The figurative usage of sacred cow is employed to refer to anything (other than a literal sacred cow) that is held to be 'above' question or criticism, especially when those outside the religion etc consider this attitude to be unreasonable. Arcane rituals may be described using the hyponymous sense of 'religious', meaning 'formulaic, having the appearance of true religion, but devoid of spiritual life'. Feb 9 '15 at 11:53
  • It was a single, compound word. I feel like it sound similar to "idiosyncrasy". Feb 9 '15 at 12:29

You might be thinking of vestigial, which refers most often to organs or body parts found in organisms which no longer need them, as "vestigial tails" in developing human embryos, or "vestigial eyes" in blind cave fish. It can be extended to any function which was once useful, but no longer is.

Another, unlikely, possibility, is hangover (not the alcoholic variety), referring to conditions which persist after the original requirement has passed: "This function is a hangover from a previous design, and can safely be eliminated."



noun a thing belonging or appropriate to a period other than that in which it exists, especially a thing that is conspicuously old-fashioned.
"everything was as it would have appeared in centuries past apart from one anachronism, a bright yellow construction crane"

an act of attributing a custom, event, or object to a period to which it does not belong.


how about idiocracy? Or if you will:



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