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vestal

[ves-tl] /ˈvɛs tl/
adjective
1.
of or relating to the goddess Vesta.
2.
of, relating to, or characteristic of a vestal virgin; chaste; pure.
noun
4.
a chaste unmarried woman; virgin.
5.
a nun.
Origin
late Middle English
1400-1450
1400-50; late Middle English (adj.) < Latin vestālis. See Vesta, -al1
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Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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British Dictionary definitions for vestal

vestal

/ˈvɛstəl/
adjective
1.
chaste or pure; virginal
2.
of or relating to the Roman goddess Vesta
noun
3.
a chaste woman; virgin
4.
a rare word for nun1 (sense 1)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for vestal
adj.

"chaste, pure, virgin," 1590s, originally (early 15c.) "belonging to or dedicated to Vesta," Roman goddess of hearth and home. The noun is recorded from 1570s, short for Vestal virgin, one of four (later six) priestesses (Latin virgines Vestales) in charge of the sacred fire in the temple of Vesta in Rome. The goddess name, attested in English from late 14c., corresponds to, and may be cognate with, Greek Hestia, from hestia "hearth," from PIE root *wes- "to dwell, stay" (cf. Sanskrit vasati "stays, dwells," Gothic wisan, Old English, Old High German wesan "to be").

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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