American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- adj. Roman Mythology Of or relating to Vesta.
- adj. Roman Mythology Relating to or characteristic of the vestal virgins.
- adj. Chaste; pure.
- n. Roman Mythology A vestal virgin.
- n. A woman who is a virgin.
- n. A nun.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- Of or pertaining to Vesta, the classical goddess of the sacred fire and of the household and the state.
- Pertaining to or characteristic of a vestal virgin or a nun.
- n. Among the ancient Romans, a virgin consecrated to Vesta and to the service of watching the sacred fire, which was kept perpetually burning upon her altar. The vestals were at first four in number, afterward six. They entered the service of the goddess at from six to ten years of age, their term of service lasting thirty years. They were then permitted to retire and to marry, but few did so, for, as vestals, they were treated with great honor, and had important public privileges. Their persons were inviolable, any offense against them being punished with death, and they were treated in all their relations with the highest distinction and reverence. A vestal who broke her vow of chastity was immured alive in an underground vault amid public monrning. There were very few such instances; in one of them, under Domitian, the chief of the vestals was put to death under a false charge trumped up by the emperor.
- n. Hence A virgin; a woman of spotless chastity; sometimes, a virgin who devotes her life entirely to the service of religion; a nun; a religieuse.
- n. In entomology: The geometrid moth Sterrha sacraria: popularly so called in England, A gossamer-winged butterfly; any member of the Vestales.
- adj. Of or pertaining to Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth.
- adj. Pure; chaste.
- n. A virgin consecrated to Vesta, and to the service of watching the sacred fire, which was to be perpetually kept burning upon her altar.
- n. A female virgin; a woman who has never had sexual relations.
- n. A nun.
GNU Webster's 1913
- adj. Of or pertaining to Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth; hence, pure; chaste.
- n. (Rom. Antiq.) A virgin consecrated to Vesta, and to the service of watching the sacred fire, which was to be perpetually kept burning upon her altar.
- n. A virgin; a woman pure and chaste; also, a nun.
- adj. of or relating to Vesta
- adj. in a state of sexual virginity
- n. a chaste woman
“Someone assumed that since I am a "linguist", I'd know the meaning of "vestal"--they wanted to know why they're called "vestal virgins.”
“The notion often prevails that if there be in the heart this divine witness of God's Spirit, it must needs be perfect, clearly indicating its origin by an exemption from all that besets ordinary human feelings, that it must be a strong, uniform, never flickering, never darkening, and perpetual light, a kind of vestal fire burning always on the altar of the heart!”
“Dalisi began to sketch tin pots with stick arms and stick legs, forming characters such as vestal virgins, traffic cops and the Pulcinella-like comedian.”
“Other species lured by the Indian summer include the distinctive crimson speckled, the dainty vestal moth and Spoladea recurvalis, an extremely rare tropical species.”
“Large numbers of vestal moths and a few crimson speckled moths, both normally resident in the Mediterranean, have been seen on the south-west and south-east coasts and in Gwynedd.”
“This week all over the media yet another presidential vestal intern revealed the details of her sad 50-year-old saga of 18 months worth of sort-of-secret liaisons with JFK of Blessed Memory.”
“They believe in the Tooth Fairy myth, the myth of the vestal virgin.”
“Lucy, thank you for doing the vestal virgin thing — keeping the flame burning, I mean.”
“The vestal virgins looked the other way though, when I brought my daughter in, wrapped her in one of the fluffy bathrobes and let her check out the igloo.”
“Called Aquavana Thermal Suites, this over-the-top pampering den is a temple of female bodily bliss, tended by Latina vestal virgins with long flowing hair.”
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