chaster; chastest
: innocent of unlawful sexual intercourse
: celibate
Monks lead a chaste life.
: pure in thought and act : modest
was sincerely trying to be chaste
: severely simple in design or execution : austere
chaste classicism
the pure, chaste lines of ancient Greek buildings
chastely adverb
chasteness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for chaste

chaste, pure, modest, decent mean free from all taint of what is lewd or salacious.

chaste primarily implies a refraining from acts or even thoughts or desires that are not virginal or not sanctioned by marriage vows.

they maintained chaste relations

pure differs from chaste in implying innocence and absence of temptation rather than control of one's impulses and actions.

the pure of heart

modest and decent apply especially to deportment and dress as outward signs of inward chastity or purity.

preferred more modest swimsuits
decent people didn't go to such movies

Examples of chaste in a Sentence

a chaste kiss on the cheek as one would expect, the minister's small talk is always chaste, even though he likes a joke as much as the next person
Recent Examples on the Web Birth is a chaste romantic fantasy that sinks into something like tragedy. Tom Gliatto, Peoplemag, 9 Mar. 2024 Most powerful men of the time — including her husband — kept mistresses, had illegitimate children, or indulged in libertine behavior on a scale that would make Catherine seem almost chaste. Stephen C. George, Discover Magazine, 15 Jan. 2024 In Steven Spielberg’s 1985 feature adaptation of The Color Purple, the characters of Celie and Shug share a chaste kiss, but not much else hints at the love affair that was integral to author Alice Walker’s novel the movie was based on. Nekesa Mumbi Moody, The Hollywood Reporter, 27 Dec. 2023 Hujar and Wojnarowicz began a largely chaste love affair that would last until Hujar’s death from AIDS in 1987. David O’Neill, The New Yorker, 24 Oct. 2023 Where there is mysticism, there is often melodrama—or at least high moodiness—and Gibran’s figures positively luxuriate in feeling, even if their bodies appear quite chaste. The New Yorker, 11 Aug. 2023 Even when his pupils seemed better disposed, their behavior was often disconcerting, with the women sitting naked on the chaste young Englishman’s lap—albeit without any apparent libidinous motives—and affectionately fastening chunks of coral to his necktie. Adam Goodheart, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Sep. 2023 Lolo’s vulgar line of questioning and theories about Kat’s private art, paired with the reveal that Kat pretends to be a chaste virgin in her relationship with her very Christian fiancé, build up the comedic tension. Maya Phillips, New York Times, 3 Sep. 2023 Attendants strip them down to undergarments and leave them alone, but the dance remains chaste: some floorbound nuzzling, a back-to-back lift. Brian Seibert, New York Times, 4 June 2023

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'chaste.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, borrowed from Anglo-French chaste, caste (also continental Old French), going back to Latin castus "free from, untouched (by the thing specified), free from vice, holy, pure, not sexually promiscuous," of uncertain origin

Note: The association of chaste with the moral precepts of the Christian church and hence the word's Latin source have most likely contributed to the preservation of the s by French speakers. — Latin castus has been taken as a variant verbal adjective of careō, carēre "to be devoid of, lack, be free from" (transitive or with an ablative complement), for which the grammarian Priscian gives the verbal adjectives caritus and cassus. Ernout and Meillet (Dictionnaire étymologique de la langue latine) take castus as originally a religious term, "in conformity with rules or rites" ("qui se conforme aux règles ou aux rites"), and hence link it with Sanskrit śiṣṭá- "commanded, instructed" (from śā́sti "punishes, controls, commands, instructs"), with other senses secondary, by association with carēre. This is questionable, however, as the meaning "free from, pure" goes back to Plautus and seems primary. Ernout and Meillet regard carēre as without an etymology. Another hypothesis, taken up by J. Pokorny (Indogermanisches etymologisches Wörterbuch), sees both castus and carēre as descended from an Indo-European verbal base *ḱes- "cut" (see castrate entry 1); the assumption is that the original sense of carēre was "to be cut off from," which developed into "to be without, lack." This is not convincing as a semantic hypothesis; moreover, the vocalism a would require an undesirable supposition such as *ḱəs-h1i̯e-, with an anaptyctic vowel (schwa secundum) and laryngeal. Compare castigate.

First Known Use

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of chaste was in the 13th century

Dictionary Entries Near chaste

Cite this Entry

“Chaste.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition


: pure in thought and act : modest
: simple or plain in design
a chaste meal
chastely adverb
chasteness noun

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