1

celibate

adjective cel·i·bate \ ˈse-lə-bət \
Updated on: 15 Nov 2017

Definition of celibate

:of, relating to, or characterized by celibacy:
a :not engaging in or characterized by sexual intercourse
  • leading a celibate life
  • Because he regarded sex outside marriage as sinful, he remained celibate all his life.
  • —Faith McNulty
  • He pursued her avidly, writing her as many as three letters a day and even offering a celibate marriage to appease her fear of sex.
  • —Ruth Franklin
  • I'd been celibate for so long, what was another year without sex?
  • —Sue Grafton
b :abstaining from marriage and sex especially because of a religious vow
  • Father Hawkins, for one, believes the priesthood would benefit from a broader mix of married and celibate priests.
  • —Daniel McGinn
  • I have met a few celibate monks in whom celibacy is truly a gift, a charism from which all—married or not—can learn …
  • —John Garvey
  • The Shakers, a celibate religious community, stress pacifism, equality and the communal ownership of material goods.
  • —Lyn Riddle

First Known Use of celibate

1724


2

celibate

noun

Definition of celibate

plural celibates
:a person who lives in celibacy :a celibate person:
a :an unmarried person; especially :one who abstains from marriage because of a religious vow
  • priestly celibates
b :a person who abstains from sexual intercourse
  • … described himself as "a reluctant celibate" who had not been with a woman for four years …
  • —Janice Kennedy

Recent Examples of celibate from the Web

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

Origin and Etymology of celibate

Latin caeleb-, caelebs "not having a spouse, unmarried" (perhaps a derivative from *kail-i- "whole," going back to Indo-European *keh2i-lo-) + 1-ate, 3-ate — more at 1whole
Note: The traditional hypothesis that caelebs goes back to a compound *kai̯elo-libh- (with the first element compared to Sanskrit kevala- "exclusively oneʼs own, alone, whole" and the second to Gothic liban "to live," English 1live) is now considered dubious.


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