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OTHER WORDS FROM vestigialves·tig·i·al·ly, adverb
Words nearby vestigial
What does vestigial mean?
Vestigial is used to describe something, especially a part of an organism, that used to have a function but has now shrunk and is mostly not used anymore.
Vestigial is an adjective form of the noun vestige, meaning something left over from a previous version.
Vestigial is used in science to describe structures like animal organs, tissues, or bones that may have been used by an ancestor but aren’t anymore. For example, snakes have vestigial structures where limbs would have been when they walked on four legs.
Even though they serve no function, vestigial structures do not disappear completely because they don’t reduce the likelihood that the animal will reproduce.
Even humans have vestigial organs and vestigial structures. The coccyx—that tiny bone at the bottom of your spinal cord—is believed to be a vestigial structure left over from an ancient ancestor that had a prehensile tail.
Vestigial can also be applied to the specific parts, as in Whales have vestigial pelvic bones from a time when they walked on land.
Example: The human appendix was once thought to be vestigial but scientists think it may still have a function.
Where does vestigial come from?
The first records of vestigial come from the 1880s. It comes from the Latin vestīgi(um), meaning “footprint.” Appropriately enough, a vestigial structure acts as a “footprint” of something that used to be there.
While vestigial structures themselves are often useless or have very minor functions, they are very useful to scientists. That’s because vestigial structures can give clues about the evolutionary history of an animal. For example, they may be evidence of limbs or organs that an ancestor had many generations ago.
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What are some other forms related to vestigial?
- vestigially (adverb)
What are some synonyms for vestigial?
What are some words that share a root or word element with vestigial?
What are some words that often get used in discussing vestigial?
How is vestigial used in real life?
Vestigial is mostly used in discussions of science, particularly evolution.
Ever wondered what that little bump on your ear is? It's used to help us move our ears around like monkeys do, and it's a vestigial structure, or "evolutionary leftover" 👀🙉https://t.co/T8b4vT5f92
— BuzzFeed News (@BuzzFeedNews) January 17, 2019
Vestigial structures and our very own evolution! https://t.co/6y2ouE3Bej
— Dr. Carin Anne Bondar (@carinbondar) April 25, 2016
Sad how turn signals have become vestigial structures
— Greg Rose (@gregrose98) October 7, 2018
Try using vestigial!
Is vestigial used correctly in the following sentence?
Penguins have vestigial wings that an ancient ancestor most likely used in order to fly.
Example sentences from the Web for vestigial
It’s always been the evening’s unofficial highest honor, but only in a vestigial sense since the dawn of the iPod — and that’s if you ever considered it an honor in the first place.Album of the year is the Grammy that nobody deserves to win|Chris Richards|March 12, 2021|Washington Post
Old people and their obsession with secrecy, vestigial limb of a world where secrets still existed.
There will be vestigial tailbones and dangling dewclaws for some time to come, but the point is to set our sights for our best selves and not our worst.
Ensembles are of vestigial interest in this new pop culture.Van Dyke Parks on How Songwriters Are Getting Screwed in the Digital Age|Van Dyke Parks|June 4, 2014|DAILY BEAST
Such myths, Manchester argues, may be vestigial in the modern era, but they remain vital to the cohesion of a culture.Three Great Men Died That Day: JFK, C.S. Lewis, and Aldous Huxley|John Garth|November 3, 2013|DAILY BEAST
The scandals now reverberating through Washington reduce to zero any last vestigial possibility of further action on jobs.
Because a foodie is a mouth with a vestigial person attached, one might think so.
It is safe to suppose that our needs are like those of the race and that in us nothing is vestigial that is active in others.The Kempton-Wace Letters|Jack London
Or, on the other hand, may not such faculty be regarded not as vestigial, but as rudimentary?Occultism and Common-Sense|Beckles Willson
Whatever lightness or joy survived was the meaningless vestigial twitching of an obsolete organ.The Syndic|C.M. Kornbluth
We now call these toes "vestigial," and know the pig's ancestors used them, walking on four toes and not on two, as at present.The Meaning of Evolution|Samuel Christian Schmucker
Similar vestigial teeth, 5-40 in number, sometimes occur in goosebeaked whales (p. 70).Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises of the Western North Atlantic|Stephen Leatherwood