ves·​ti·​gial | \ ve-ˈsti-jē-əl How to pronounce vestigial (audio) , -jəl \

Definition of vestigial

1 of a body part or organ : remaining in a form that is small or imperfectly developed and not able to function : being or having the form of a vestige (see vestige sense 2) a vestigial tail Kiwis lack an external tail, and their vestigial wings are entirely hidden beneath a curious plumage—shaggy, more like fur than feathers …— Stephen Jay Gould
2 : remaining as the last small part of something that existed before It's held in the Gold Room, a vestigial ballroom of the kind that every downtown hotel uses for banquets and conventions.— William Zinsser Later colonial laws … prohibited even speaking the Pequot language, now long dead but for a few vestigial words.— Kirk Johnson

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Other Words from vestigial

vestigially \ ve-​ˈsti-​jē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce vestigial (audio) , -​jə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of vestigial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Unsatisfied, Republicans have successfully brought negotiations on the Hill toward a grand compromise that eliminates even the vestigial possibility that a meaningful number of workers might find recourse in the legal system. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "Congress’s Theater of Compromise and the Death of Covid Relief," 8 Dec. 2020 Later, the attacking cells were shown to come from the thymus, a small, spongy organ, then thought to be vestigial, that straddled the esophagus. James Somers, The New Yorker, "How the Coronavirus Hacks the Immune System," 2 Nov. 2020 The Concept also summoned the spirit of Volvo’s most beautiful car, the P1800 (1961-1972): the dramatic cab-rearward balance and intimate canopy; the peaked rear fender lines and almost vestigial tail fins; the teeth-baring grille. Dan Neil, WSJ, "Polestar 1: The World’s Most Beautiful Hybrid Car Has Arrived," 15 Oct. 2020 And rear hatches become vestigial doors that lead to the secondary bulletproof rear bulkhead inside. Ezra Dyer, Car and Driver, "Are Armored Vehicles Like President Trump's 'Hermetically Sealed'?," 6 Oct. 2020 Neanderthals may have had lower pain thresholds than modern humans, who were found to retain a vestigial ability to perk up their ears. Rafil Kroll-zaidi, Harper's Magazine, "Findings," 15 Sep. 2020 Elaborate and trite farewells are vestigial Landline-Era nonsense. Alex Schmidt, WSJ, "Beyond Zoom Etiquette: 21 Rules for Using Tech Now," 3 Sep. 2020 Moreover, Honda managed to make this package aerodynamic with a low, sloping hood, flush windshield moldings, and a vestigial roof spoiler; the factory claims a drag coefficient of 0.40 and zero lift. Michael Jordan, Car and Driver, "Tested: 1982 Honda City Makes a Case for Minicars in America," 9 July 2020 Turn the vestigial key nub to the left of the steering wheel, and the GTS coupe settles into a deep rumble that transitions to a tempered growl in casual driving. Mike Sutton, Car and Driver, "2021 Porsche Cayenne GTS Coupe Sings a V-8 Anthem," 30 June 2020

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

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First Known Use of vestigial

1843, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for vestigial

Latin vestigium + English -al entry 1

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Time Traveler for vestigial

Time Traveler

The first known use of vestigial was in 1843

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Statistics for vestigial

Last Updated

22 Dec 2020

Cite this Entry

“Vestigial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for vestigial


How to pronounce vestigial (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of vestigial

technical, of a body part : remaining in a form that is not fully developed or able to function
formal : remaining as the last small part of something that existed before


ves·​ti·​gial | \ ve-ˈsti-jē-əl, -ˈsti-jəl \

Kids Definition of vestigial

: of, relating to, or being the last remaining amount or visible sign of something lost or vanished


ves·​tig·​ial | \ ve-ˈstij-(ē-)əl How to pronounce vestigial (audio) \

Medical Definition of vestigial

: of, relating to, or being a vestige a vestigial structure

Other Words from vestigial

vestigially \ -​ē How to pronounce vestigial (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vestigial

Nglish: Translation of vestigial for Spanish Speakers

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