cel·​i·​ba·​cy | \ ˈse-lə-bə-sē How to pronounce celibacy (audio) \

Definition of celibacy

1 : the state of not being married
2a : abstention from sexual intercourse
b : abstention by vow from marriage priestly celibacy

Examples of celibacy in a Sentence

a widower who has maintained absolute celibacy since the death of his wife
Recent Examples on the Web It’s like Sonny turning the other cheek or pledging celibacy. Mark Feeney, BostonGlobe.com, 7 July 2022 The Shakers, a Christian group that celebrated simplicity and celibacy, immigrated in the late 18th century from England, where the family of Ms. de Boer’s mother hails from. New York Times, 4 Mar. 2022 Gambling was a hard no and celibacy was expected, except for married couples who were permitted to conjugate for purposes of procreation — but only after chanting for five hours. Ashley Stimpson, Longreads, 19 Feb. 2022 With the evolution of HIV-testing capabilities, deferral windows have been modified: The lifetime ban was shortened to a year of celibacy in 2015 and then reduced to three months in April 2020. Ushma S. Neill And Lala Tanmoy Das, CNN, 21 Jan. 2022 Chastity, Sister Kate says, is not to be confused with celibacy. Corrine Ciani, Rolling Stone, 25 Dec. 2021 Various ideas about her status have played into debates about sexuality, celibacy and women’s role in Christian institutions. Livia Gershon, Smithsonian Magazine, 14 Dec. 2021 For everyone who took up knitting during the pandemic, only to be mocked by their close ones — think: jokes about Meredith Grey celibacy knitting and becoming a grandma at 25 — joke’s on them. Eliza Huber, refinery29.com, 12 May 2021 How is celibacy like an afternoon fling between bank tellers? Washington Post, 18 Nov. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'celibacy.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of celibacy

1646, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for celibacy

celibate "state of not being married" (borrowed from Latin caelibātus, from caelebs "not having a spouse, unmarried" + -ātus -ate entry 2) + -acy — more at celibate entry 1

Learn More About celibacy

Time Traveler for celibacy

Time Traveler

The first known use of celibacy was in 1646

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near celibacy

celiac disease



See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for celibacy

Last Updated

12 Jul 2022

Cite this Entry

“Celibacy.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/celibacy. Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More from Merriam-Webster on celibacy

Nglish: Translation of celibacy for Spanish Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about celibacy


Test Your Vocabulary

Commonly Confused Words Quiz

  • vector image of a face with thought expression
  • I went to the ______ store to buy a birthday card.
True or False

Test your knowledge - and maybe learn something along the way.

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!