AskDefine | Define initiate

Dictionary Definition

initiate

Noun

1 someone new to a field or activity [syn: novice, beginner, tyro, tiro]
2 someone who has been admitted to membership in a scholarly field [syn: learned person, pundit, savant]
3 people who have been introduced to the mysteries of some field or activity; "it is very familiar to the initiate" [syn: enlightened] [ant: uninitiate]

Verb

1 bring into being; "He initiated a new program"; "Start a foundation" [syn: originate, start]
2 take the lead or initiative in; participate in the development of; "This South African surgeon pioneered heart transplants" [syn: pioneer]
3 accept young people into society, usually with some rite; "African men are initiated when they reach puberty" [syn: induct]
4 bring up a topic for discussion [syn: broach]
5 prepare the way for; "Hitler's attack on Poland led up to World War Two" [syn: lead up]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. A new member of an organization.
  2. One who has been through a ceremony of initiation.

Translations

A new member of an organization
One who has been through a ceremony of initiation

Verb

  1. To begin, to start, to introduce.

Translations

To begin, to start, to introduce

Extensive Definition

Initiation is a rite of passage ceremony marking entrance or acceptance into a group or society. It could also be a formal admission to adulthood in a community or one of its formal components. In an extended sense it can also signify a transformation in which the initiate is 'reborn' into a new role. Examples of initiation ceremonies might include Christian baptism or confirmation, Jewish bar or bat mitzvah, acceptance into a fraternal organization, secret society or religious order, or graduation from school or recruit training. another example is if you start a new high school, the year twelves will do an initiation trick just to embarass you.
A person taking the initiation ceremony in traditional rites, such as those depicted in these pictures, is called an initiate.

Etymology

The English word derives from the Latin, initium: "entrance" or "beginning," literally "a going in." The related English verb, initiate, means to begin or start a particular action, event, circumstance, or happening.

Religious and other spiritual initiations

A spiritual initiation rite normally implies a shepherding process where those who are at a higher level guide the initiate through a process of greater exposure of knowledge. This may include the revelation of secrets, hence the term secret society for such organizations, usually reserved for those at the higher level of understanding. One famous historical example is the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece, thought to go back to at least the Mycenaean period or "bronze age".
In the context of ritual magic and esotericism, an initiation is considered to cause a fundamental process of change to begin within the person being initiated. The person conducting the initiation (the initiator), being in possession of a certain power or state of being, transfers this power or state to the person being initiated. Thus the concept of initiation is similar to that of apostolic succession. The initiation process is often likened to a simultaneous death and rebirth, because as well as being a beginning it also implies an ending as existence on one level drops away in an ascension to the next. Initiation is a key component of Sant Mat, Surat Shabd Yoga and similar religious gnostic traditions. It denotes acceptance by the Guru and also implies that the Chela (student or disciple) agrees to the requirements (such as living an ethical lifestyle, meditating, etc.)

Profane social organization initiations

In unionised organizations, the "initiation" is typically no more than a brief familiarization with basic procedures and the provision of a copy of the appropriate collective bargaining agreement that governs the work performed by members of the union. Some unions also charge a one-time initiation fee, after which the joining person is officially deemed to be a member in good standing.

Naval and military initiations

Some communities on board a military vessel and also of military soldiers tend to form a closed 'family' which absorbs in members, who are often formally accepted, generally after a form of trial or hazing.
In addition, there can be similar rites of passages associated with parts of naval and military life, which do not constitute true initiations as the participants are already and remain members of the same community. One such rite is associated with crossing the equator on board a naval ship, but it can even be taken by passengers on board a cruise liner, who aren't and don't become members of anything but the so-called 'equator crossing club'. Another form, “Kissing the Royal Belly” or “Royal Baby”, calls for initiates to kneel before a senior member of the crew, who wears a mock diaper. This “Baby” usually has a huge stomach covered with greasy materials ranging from cooking oil to mustard, shaving cream, eggs, and oysters. Junior sailors must lick the Baby’s navel area, while the "baby" grabs and shakes their head to better smear the goo onto their faces.

Tribal initiations

Tribes often have initiations. The initiation done in the Bapedi tribe of South Africa is normally regarded as a stage where a boy is to be taught manhood and a girl to be taught womanhood. In many African tribes, initiation involves circumcision of males and sometimes circumcision/genital mutilation of females as well. Initiation is considered necessary for the individual to be regarded as a full member of the tribe. Otherwise, the individual may not be allowed to participate in ceremonies or even in social ritual such as marriage. A man will not be allowed to marry or have any special relationship with a woman who didn't go to an initiation, because she is not considered as a woman.
Initiation may be thought of as an event which may help teens prepare themselves to be good husbands and wives. Where modernization is occurring, initiation is not taken so seriously as before, although there are still certain areas which still perform initiations.
In some African tribes, boys take about 3-4 months participating in initiation rites and girls take about 1-2 months.

References

initiate in Danish: Rite
initiate in German: Initiation
initiate in French: Initiation
initiate in Italian: Iniziazione
initiate in Hebrew: טקס חניכה
initiate in Dutch: Inwijding
initiate in Japanese: 通過儀礼
initiate in Polish: Inicjacja
initiate in Portuguese: Iniciação
initiate in Russian: Инициация
initiate in Serbian: Иницијација
initiate in Finnish: Aikuistumisriitti
initiate in Ukrainian: Ініціація

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

Greek, abecedarian, accept, accomplished, activate, actuate, admit, affiliate, alphabetarian, apprentice, articled clerk, associate, at concert pitch, begin, beginner, belonger, boot, break ground, break the ice, bring up, broach, brother, card-carrier, card-carrying member, cardholder, career, catechumen, charter member, christen, clubber, clubman, clubwoman, coach, coached, commence, committeeman, comrade, conventioneer, conventioner, conventionist, conversant, create, debutant, drill, dues-paying member, enlist, enlistee, enroll, enrollee, enter, enter on, enter upon, entrant, establish, fellow, finished, fledgling, float, found, fraternity man, freshman, get going, get off, get under way, give rise to, greenhorn, guildsman, head, head up, honorary member, ignoramus, inaugurate, induct, inductee, initiated, insider, install, instate, instigate, institute, instruct, introduce, invent, invest, joiner, kick off, launch, lead, lead off, lead the way, life member, lift up, member, neophyte, new boy, newcomer, novice, novitiate, one of us, open, ordain, originate, pioneer, pledge, postulant, practiced, pre-educate, precede, prepared, primed, probationer, probationist, professional, raise, raw recruit, recruit, ring in, rookie, set agoing, set going, set in motion, set off, set on foot, set up, sign on, sign up, sister, skilled, socius, sorority girl, sorority woman, stand first, start, start going, start up, take in, take the initiative, take the lead, take the plunge, take up, teach, technical, tenderfoot, train, trained, trigger, turn on, tutor, tyro, usher in
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