Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Roman Mythology Of or relating to Vesta.
  • adjective Relating to or characteristic of the vestal virgins.
  • adjective Chaste; pure.
  • noun A vestal virgin.
  • noun A woman who is a virgin.
  • noun A nun.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun 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.
  • noun In entomology: The geometrid moth Sterrha sacraria: popularly so called in England, A gossamer-winged butterfly; any member of the Vestales.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun (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.
  • noun A virgin; a woman pure and chaste; also, a nun.
  • adjective Of or pertaining to Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth; hence, pure; chaste.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective Of or pertaining to Vesta, the virgin goddess of the hearth.
  • adjective Pure; chaste.
  • noun A virgin consecrated to Vesta, and to the service of watching the sacred fire, which was to be perpetually kept burning upon her altar.
  • noun A female virgin; a woman who has never had sexual relations.
  • noun A nun.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or relating to Vesta
  • adjective in a state of sexual virginity
  • noun a chaste woman

Etymologies

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Examples

  • 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."

    Teaching and translating mj 2007

  • 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!

    Expositions of Holy Scripture: Romans Corinthians (To II Corinthians, Chap. V) Alexander Maclaren 1868

  • 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.

    Stars and Stripes 2010

  • Other species lured by the Indian summer include the distinctive crimson speckled, the dainty vestal moth and Spoladea recurvalis, an extremely rare tropical species.

    Indian summer sees exotic moths fly in 2011

  • 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.

    Heatwave brings rare moths to UK 2011

  • Lucy, thank you for doing the vestal virgin thing — keeping the flame burning, I mean.

    “Mapplethorpe: Polaroids” | clusterflock 2009

  • 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.

    Myra Chanin: Mimi Alford's Hymen Sacrificed on the Altar of History Myra Chanin 2012

  • They believe in the Tooth Fairy myth, the myth of the vestal virgin.

    Penthouse Founder Bob Guccione Dies At 79 2010

  • 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.

    Nina Burleigh: Soaking Up Florida 2010

  • 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.

    Nina Burleigh: Soaking Up Florida 2010

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