vestal virgin


: a virgin consecrated to the Roman goddess Vesta and to the service of watching the sacred fire perpetually kept burning on her altar
: a chaste woman

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web Russell and his mission colleagues named the crater Rheasilvia, after a vestal virgin in Roman mythology. Tim Folger, Discover Magazine, 24 Oct. 2012 To mark the legendary founding of the city and its past glory, there is usually a crowded birthday parade of re-enactors dressed up as gladiators and vestal virgins. Jason Horowitz, New York Times, 1 May 2020 The vestal virgins, who maintained the sacred fire of Vesta, the goddess of hearth and home, were the Beyhive of their day. Michael Schulman, The New Yorker, 9 Sep. 2019 The vestal virgins, whose images appear on coins and friezes in Mr. MacGregor’s pages, held the high responsibility of keeping the Roman national hearth alight. Andrew Stark, WSJ, 16 Nov. 2018

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

Word History

First Known Use

circa 1583, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of vestal virgin was circa 1583

Dictionary Entries Near vestal virgin

Cite this Entry

“Vestal virgin.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Jun. 2023.

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