vestige

noun ves·tige \ ˈve-stij \
Updated on: 21 Nov 2017

Definition of vestige

1 a (1) : a trace, mark, or visible sign left by something (such as an ancient city or a condition or practice) vanished or lost
(2) : the smallest quantity or trace
b : footprint 1
2 : a bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed in comparison to one more fully developed in an earlier stage of the individual, in a past generation, or in closely related forms

vestige was our Word of the Day on 08/12/2016. Hear the podcast!

Examples of vestige in a Sentence

  1. a few strange words carved on a tree were the only vestige of the lost colony of Roanoke

  2. the fossilized vestige of a dinosaur that traversed that muddy landscape millions of years ago

Recent Examples of vestige from the Web

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

vestige, Trace, and Track

Vestige is derived via Middle French from the Latin noun vestigium, meaning "footstep, footprint, or track." Like trace and track, vestige can refer to a perceptible sign made by something that has now passed. Of the three words, vestige is the most likely to apply to a tangible reminder, such as a fragment or remnant of what is past and gone. Trace, on the other hand, may suggest any line, mark, or discernible effect ("the snowfield is pockmarked with the traces of caribou"). Track implies a continuous line that can be followed ("the fossilized tracks of dinosaurs").

Origin and Etymology of vestige

Middle English, from Middle French, from Latin vestigium footstep, footprint, track, vestige

Synonym Discussion of vestige

trace, vestige, track mean a perceptible sign made by something that has passed. trace may suggest any line, mark, or discernible effect.
    • the killer left no traces
vestige applies to a tangible reminder such as a fragment or remnant of what is past and gone.
    • boulders that are vestiges of the last ice age
track implies a continuous line that can be followed.
    • the fossilized tracks of dinosaurs

VESTIGE Defined for English Language Learners

vestige

noun

Definition of vestige for English Language Learners

  • : the last small part that remains of something that existed before

  • : the smallest possible amount of something


VESTIGE Defined for Kids

vestige

noun ves·tige \ ˈve-stij \

Definition of vestige for Students

: a tiny amount or visible sign of something lost or vanished : trace
  • We stayed outside to enjoy the last vestiges of daylight.

Medical Dictionary

vestige

noun ves·tige \ ˈves-tij \

medical Definition of vestige

: a bodily part or organ that is small and degenerate or imperfectly developed in comparison to one more fully developed in an earlier stage of the individual, in a past generation, or in closely related forms


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