late 14c., cerymonye, "a religious observance, a solemn rite," from Old French ceremonie and directly from Medieval Latin ceremonia, from Latin caerimonia "holiness, sacredness; awe; reverent rite, sacred ceremony," an obscure word, possibly of Etruscan origin, or a reference to the ancient rites performed by the Etruscan pontiffs at Caere, near Rome.
Introduced in English by Wyclif. Also from late 14c. as "a conventional usage of politeness, formality." Disparaging sense of "mere formality" is by 1550s.
1550s, "relating to outward forms or rites," also, of persons, "punctilious in matters of formality," from French cérémonieux or directly from Late Latin caerimoniosus, from Latin caerimonia "reverent rite, sacred ceremony" (see ceremony). Meaning "full of show and ceremony" is from 1610s. Related: Ceremoniously; ceremoniousness.
1590s, "small point," also "minute detail of conduct, small or petty formality," thus "particularity or exactness in the observance of rules or forms prescribed by law or custom," from Italian puntiglio or Spanish puntillo, diminutive of punto "point" (see point (n.)).
1757, "a rod used in ramming" (the charge of a gun or other firearm), from ram (v.) + rod (n.). Used figuratively for straightness or stiffness by 1939; also figurative of formality or primness (ramroddy, 1886). The verb in the figurative meaning "to force or drive as with a ramrod" is by 1948. Related: Ramrodded; ramrodding.
c. 1400, "belonging to (religious) ritual," also as a noun, "a ceremonial practice," from Late Latin caerimonialis "pertaining to ceremony," from caerimonia (see ceremony). Related: Ceremonially.
Ceremonial means connected with or constituting or consisting of or fit for a ceremony (i.e. a piece of ritual or formality) or ceremonies .... Ceremonious means full of or resulting from ceremony i.e. attention to forms .... [Fowler]