Definitions

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

  • adj. Relating to, characteristic of, or befitting a virgin; chaste.
  • adj. Remaining in a state of virginity.
  • adj. Untouched or unsullied; fresh.
  • adj. Zoology Virgin.
  • n. A small, legless rectangular harpsichord popular in the 16th and 17th centuries. Often used in the plural. Also called pair of virginals.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Being or resembling a virgin.
  • n. A musical instrument in the harpsichord family.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of or pertaining to a virgin; becoming a virgin; maidenly.
  • n. An instrument somewhat resembling the spinet, but having a rectangular form, like the small piano. It had strings and keys, but only one wire to a note. The instrument was used in the sixteenth century, but is now wholly obsolete. It was sometimes called a pair of virginals.
  • intransitive v. To play with the fingers, as if on a virginal; to tap or pat.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Pertaining to a virgin; maidenly: as, virginal reserve.
  • In zoology, virgin; parthenogenetic: as, the virginal reproduction of plant-lice.
  • n. A spinet, or small harpsichord (which see), usually quadrangular in shape and without legs, very popular in England in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.
  • To finger, as on a virginal; pat or tap with the fingers.

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

  • adj. in a state of sexual virginity
  • adj. untouched or undefiled
  • n. a legless rectangular harpsichord; played (usually by women) in the 16th and 17th centuries
  • adj. characteristic of a virgin or virginity

Etymologies

From virgin (perhaps from its being associated with female performers).
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin virginālis (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Nay, I am no cold-blooded theorist, no thick-hided dogmatist; nor am I a chastely simple young man mooning in virginal innocence.

    The Kempton-Wace Letters

  • If we treat the word virginal as meaning purity, then the birth of her gifted son (sun) was due to her positive nature: she was pure at heart, as the fields were pure to plant upon.

    Derek Beres: A Light is Born: Jesus, Jeremiah and Sam

  • You see, geek girls are such a rarity that few of them remain virginal - the choices are so many ...

    Some things defy belief.

  • The everlasting snow which looks so virginal, is in fact distinctly grimy when you get close to it.

    As I Please

  • The so-called virginal reproduction (Parthenogenesis) offers an interesting form of transition from sexual reproduction to the non-sexual formation of germ-cells which most resembles it ....

    The Story of Atlantis and the Lost Lemuria

  • The profane love of woman presented itself to my fancy, clothed, not only with all its own charms, but with the sovereign and almost irresistible charms of the most dangerous of all temptation—of that which the moralists call virginal temptation—when the mind, not yet undeceived by experience and by sin, pictures to itself in the transports of love a supreme and ineffable delight immeasurable superior to all reality.

    IX. Part II.—Paralipomena

  • Finally, no Shakespeare student will deny that some general help is necessary, when Schmidt's admirable Lexicon commits itself to such a misleading statement as that a virginal is a kind of small pianoforte, and when a very distinguished Shakespeare scholar has allowed a definition of a viol as a six-stringed guitar to appear in print under his name.

    Shakespeare and Music With Illustrations from the Music of the 16th and 17th centuries

  • When the spinet was of very small dimensions it was called a virginal; when it was in the shape of our modern grand piano, it was, of course,

    Critical and Historical Essays Lectures delivered at Columbia University

  • The ex-wife turned up, alone, in an outfit best described as virginal white (the bride, on her second marriage was obviously not in white).

    Army Rumour Service

  • But even my 87-year-old grandfather with a Star magazine penchant realizes that Britney — 29, divorcee, rehab-tress and mother of two — is no longer Disney's trillion-dollar creation of a meticulous squeaky-clean, "virginal" pop princess with superhero abs and the most desirable pop star BF in the universe.

    Alex Catarinella: The Return of Our Perfectly Imperfect Pop Star

Comments

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  • Predictably there's some lewd conjecture about how this term came to be applied to a musical instrument.

    May 30, 2008