vestigial

adjective ves·ti·gial \ ve-ˈsti-jē-əl , -jəl \
Updated on: 22 Nov 2017

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 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

vestigially

play \ve-ˈsti-jē-ə-lē, -jə-lē\ adverb

Recent Examples of vestigial from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of vestigial

Latin vestigium + English 1-al


VESTIGIAL Defined for Kids

vestigial

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

Definition of vestigial for Students

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

Medical Dictionary

vestigial

adjective ves·tig·ial \ ve-ˈstij-(ē-)əl \

medical Definition of vestigial

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

vestigially

play \\ adverb

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