vestal

[ves-tl]

adjective

of or relating to the goddess Vesta.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a vestal virgin; chaste; pure.

noun

a chaste unmarried woman; virgin.
a nun.

Origin of vestal

1400–50; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin vestālis. See Vesta, -al1
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for vestal

nun, virginal, chaste, pure, virtuous

Examples from the Web for vestal

Historical Examples of vestal

  • 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


British Dictionary definitions for vestal

vestal

adjective

chaste or pure; virginal
of or relating to the Roman goddess Vesta

noun

a chaste woman; virgin
a rare word for nun 1 (def. 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

Word Origin and History for vestal
adj.

"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