vir·​ga | \ ˈvər-gə How to pronounce virga (audio) \

Definition of virga

: wisps of precipitation evaporating before reaching the ground

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Virga is from the Latin word virga, which means primarily "branch" or "rod," but can also refer to a streak in the sky suggesting rain. Our featured word, which dates to the mid-20th century, is only the latest in a series of words from this root. "Verge" (which originally referred to a rod or staff carried as an emblem of authority or a symbol of office) dates to the 15th century. The rare noun "virgate," which refers to an old English unit of land area, came from "virga" by way of the Medieval Latin virgata (also a unit of land area) in the late 17th century. The more common adjective virgate, meaning "shaped like a rod or wand" arrived in the early 19th by way of Latin virgatus, meaning "made of twigs."

First Known Use of virga

1938, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for virga

New Latin, from Latin, branch, rod, streak in the sky suggesting rain

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The first known use of virga was in 1938

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Cite this Entry

“Virga.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 11 Jul. 2020.

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