ETYM Old Eng. baptim, baptem, Old Eng. baptesme, batisme, French baptęme, Latin baptisma, from Greek baptein to dip in water.
A Christian sacrament signifying spiritual cleansing and rebirth.
Immersion in or sprinkling with water as a religious rite of initiation. It was practiced long before the beginning of Christianity. In the Christian baptism ceremony, sponsors or godparents make vows on behalf of the child, which are renewed by the child at confirmation. It is one of the seven sacraments. The amrit ceremony in Sikhism is sometimes referred to as baptism.
Baptism was universal in the Christian church from the first days, being administered to adults by immersion. The baptism of infants was not practiced until the 2nd century, but became general in the 6th. Baptism by sprinkling (christening) when the child is named is now general among Western Christians, with the exception of some sects (notably the Baptists) where complete immersion of adults is the rule. The Eastern Orthodox Church also practices immersion.