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[ves-tl] /ˈvɛs tl/
of or relating to the goddess Vesta.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a vestal virgin; chaste; pure.
a chaste unmarried woman; virgin.
a nun.
Origin of vestal
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin vestālis. See Vesta, -al1 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for vestal
Historical Examples
  • In such cases these women were made vestal Virgins in the temples.

  • To bear sway for the stranger would be a work of danger to the “vestal.”

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • The boat returned to the “vestal,” and all those who had been rescued were put on board.

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • Twice the boat returned without an accident to the “vestal.”

    The Grateful Indian W.H.G. Kingston
  • In such carpenta may the vestal virgins have ascended the Capitol.

    New Italian sketches John Addington Symonds
  • vestal virgins were not supposed to have children, yet they could and often did marry.

  • To bear away for the stranger would be a work of danger to the “vestal.”

    The Story of Nelson W.H.G. Kingston
  • So it is when the literary deities, vestal or otherwise, return to their Stratfords.

    Coniston, Complete Winston Churchill
  • There is something divine in every vestal, and Rubria is very beautiful.

    Quo Vadis Henryk Sienkiewicz
  • The scene changes to the vestal sanctuary in Priam's palace.

British Dictionary definitions for vestal


chaste or pure; virginal
of or relating to the Roman goddess Vesta
a chaste woman; virgin
a rare word for nun1 (sense 1)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for vestal

"chaste, pure, virgin," 1590s, originally (early 15c.) "belonging to or dedicated to Vesta," Roman goddess of hearth and home. The noun is recorded from 1570s, short for Vestal virgin, one of four (later six) priestesses (Latin virgines Vestales) in charge of the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta in Rome. The goddess name, attested in English from late 14c., corresponds to, and may be cognate with, Greek Hestia, from hestia "hearth," from PIE root *wes- "to dwell, stay" (cf. Sanskrit vasati "stays, dwells," Gothic wisan, Old English, Old High German wesan "to be").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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