"Rite" stands here for a complex set of ideas that is difficult to render in Western languages. The Chinese character for "rites" previously had the religious meaning of "sacrifice" (the character E is composed of the character y:, which means "altar", to the left of the character placed over aF, representing a vase full of flowers and offered as a sacrifice to the gods; cf. Wenlin).
Its Confucian meaning ranges from politeness and propriety to the understanding of everybody's correct place in society.
Externally, ritual is used to distinguish between people; their usage allows people to know at all times who is the younger and who the elder, who is the guest and who the host and so forth.
Internally, they indicate to people their duty amongst others and what to expect from them.Internalisation is the main process in ritual.