Cleansing with water, literally or metaphorically
This word was often used when the purification achieved had a religious backing, as in Islam and Christianity, but when Christian purification spread to the 19th century Victorian obsession with cleanliness, this word went with it.
Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art-
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores.
— John Keats, Bright Star (1819)
If his ankles be weak, let them every morning be bathed, after the completion of his morning’s ablution, for five minutes each time, with bay salt and water…
— Pye Henry Chavasse, “Advice to a mother on the management of her children” (1868)
In the center of the court is a large fountain, and a small stream surrounds the piazzas, where the Moors perform the ceremony of ablution.
— John Pinkerton, Voyages and Travels (1814)
From the Latin Ab (off) and luere (wash), related to another less-used English word for washing, “lave“