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  1. Often virginals. a rectangular harpsichord with the strings stretched parallel to the keyboard, the earlier types placed on a table: popular in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Origin of virginal2

First recorded in 1520–30; apparently special use of virginal1
Related formsvir·gin·al·ist, noun
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
British Dictionary definitions for virginalist


  1. of, relating to, characterized by, proper to, or maintaining a state of virginity; chaste
  2. extremely pure or fresh; untouched; undefiled
Derived Formsvirginally, adverb

Word Origin

C15: from Latin virginālis maidenly, from virgō virgin


  1. (often plural) a smaller version of the harpsichord, but oblong in shape, having one manual and no pedals
Derived Formsvirginalist, noun

Word Origin

C16: probably from Latin virginālis virginal 1, perhaps because it was played largely by young ladies
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

Word Origin and History for virginalist



early 15c., from Old French virginal or directly from Latin virginalis, from virgin (see virgin). The keyed musical instrument so called from 1520s, but the reason is obscure (see virginals).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

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