Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Shaped like a wand or rod; straight, long, and slender.
  • n. An early English measure of land area of varying value, often equal to about 30 acres (12 hectares).

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An early English measure of land of about 30 acres.
  • adj. Shaped like a rod; straight, long and thin.
  • adj. finely striped, often with dark fibers.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the form of a straight rod; wand-shaped; straight and slender.
  • n. A yardland, or measure of land varying from fifteen to forty acres.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In geology, noting a system of faults, the minor members of which branch from a central one as twigs from a bough.
  • To branch off, like a twig, or diverge like a system of twigs.
  • Having the shape of a wand or rod; slender, straight, and erect: as, a virgate stem; a virgate polyp.
  • n. A measure of surface (corresponding to the ML. terra virgata, measured land). Different areas have been so called, without much uniformity. Compare quotation under holding, 3 .

Etymologies

Latin virgātus, made of twigs, from virga, twig.
Medieval Latin virgāta, from feminine of Latin virgātus, relating to a rod; see virgate1.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin virgātus. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • The typical holding, the group of scattered acres cultivated by one man or held by some two or three in common, was known as a "virgate," or by some equivalent term, and although of no universal equality, was more frequently of thirty acres than of any other number.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England

  • The manor of Countisbury rendered geld for half a hide, of which the lord held one virgate and four ploughs, and the villeins held one virgate and six ploughs.

    Lynton and Lynmouth A Pageant of Cliff & Moorland

  • +Cap+ brownish yellow, 1½ to 3 inches broad, convex or nearly plane, viscid or glutinous when moist, often obscurely streaked (virgate).

    Among the Mushrooms A Guide For Beginners

  • On three sides the five-virgate field was bounded by a high wall, broken only at one spot by a heavy four-foot wooden gate.

    Sir Nigel

  • We were coming back over the five-virgate field, and the holy subprior was telling us a saintly tale from the life of Saint Gregory, when there came a sudden sound like a rushing torrent, and the foul fiend sprang over the high wall which skirts the water-meadow and rushed upon us with the speed of the wind.

    Sir Nigel

  • Some, holding only a half or a quarter virgate, are spoken of as half or quarter villains.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England

  • Usually one finds on a given manor that ten or fifteen of the villagers have each a virgate of a given number of acres, several more have each a half virgate or a quarter.

    An Introduction to the Industrial and Social History of England

  • His usual holding was a virgate of 30 acres of arable, though the virgate differed in size even in the same manors; but in addition to this he would have his meadow land and his share in the common pasture and wood, altogether about 100 acres of land.

    A Short History of English Agriculture

  • The basis of the whole scheme of measurement in Domesday was the hide, usually of 120 acres, the amount of land that could be ploughed by a team of 8 oxen in a year; a quarter of this was the virgate, an eighth the bovate, which would therefore supply one ox to the common team.

    A Short History of English Agriculture

  • Durant, whose ancestor in 1222 held only one virgate in 'Cadendon', had in 1279 eight or ten at least.

    A Short History of English Agriculture

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