vestigial

adjective
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 vestigially (audio) , -​jə-​lē \ adverb

Examples of vestigial in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

This is the office of the Committee for the Five Northern Provinces, South Korea’s vestigial bureaucracy for North Korea, over which the South claims jurisdiction. The Economist, "The South Korean bureaucrats who pretend to run North Korea," 8 June 2019 Now, crashing into the consciousness of the whole country, is the realization that other forces have been at work here, the narratives of bigotry that many of us assumed were vestigial relics of a shameful past. Michael Bradley, National Geographic, "‘This isn’t us? Oh but it is.’ New Zealand grapples with its history," 19 Mar. 2019 Majestic old houses of worship have only vestigial congregations. WSJ, "What to Do With Empty Churches," 31 Jan. 2019 Everything in Dorothy’s life is vestigial, most oppressively the title Mrs. Caliban, after the sudden deaths of her two children. Vox Staff, Vox, "The most thought-provoking books the Vox staff read in 2018," 21 Dec. 2018 Now, the Kinect itself is a largely vestigial part of the Xbox One package, requiring a special USB adapter on new models of the system. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Feature erosion watch: Xbox One loses broadcast TV streaming," 5 Nov. 2018 So vestigial is the addition of workers that one module does without them completely. Tom Mendelsohn, Ars Technica, "Review: Founders of Gloomhaven groans beneath its own weight," 22 Sep. 2018 On the shin is a mini extension that curves upward like a thorny vestigial tail. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Fecal Matter Has Made Its Photoshopped Skin Shoes Into Actual Wearable Heels—And They're $10,000," 24 Oct. 2018 Being surrounded by like-minded people kind of rules, but then there’s the niggling feeling you’ve become a political vestigial tail in deep-blue California, especially as a massively important Midterm election approaches. Gwynedd Stuart, Los Angeles Magazine, "Former Michiganders Are Getting Politically Active in Their Home State All the Way From L.A.," 11 June 2018

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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Statistics for vestigial

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for vestigial

The first known use of vestigial was in 1843

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More Definitions for vestigial

vestigial

adjective

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

vestigial

adjective
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

vestigial

adjective
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 vestigially (audio) \ adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on vestigial

Nglish: Translation of vestigial for Spanish Speakers

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