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vestal virgin

(in ancient Rome) one of four, later six, virgins consecrated to Vesta and to the tending of the sacred fire on her altar.
Origin of vestal virgin
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for vestal virgins
Historical Examples
  • Our part is to look beautiful, and we may leave grave thoughts to the vestal virgins.

  • Messalina implored the protection of Vibidia, the chief of the vestal virgins.

    Under Csars' Shadow Henry Francis Colby
  • The podium contained the places of honour reserved for the Emperor and his family, the Senate, and the vestal virgins.

    Walks in Rome Augustus J.C. Hare
  • The vestal virgins had the right of burial within the city itself.

    The Historical Child Oscar Chrisman
  • To him is given the credit of organizing the religious institutions of the Romans, and especially the college of vestal virgins.

    Roman Women Alfred Brittain
  • You know, monseigneur, upon what condition the vestal virgins at Rome were chosen?

    Luxury-Gluttony: Eugne Sue
  • Exceptions were made in the case of emperors, vestal virgins, and famous men, such as those who had been honoured with triumphs.

  • The vestal virgins, priestesses who tended the flame, were held in the highest honor.

    Journeys Through Bookland, Vol. 6 Charles H. Sylvester
  • One who has read of the vestal virgins of old will recognize at once where monkery originated.

  • Then there are the deva dasies, our 'vestal virgins,' of whom even small and poor temples have one or two to boast.

British Dictionary definitions for vestal virgins

vestal virgin

(in ancient Rome) one of the four, later six, virgin priestesses whose lives were dedicated to Vesta and to maintaining the sacred fire in her temple
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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vestal virgins in Culture

vestal virgins definition

Women in ancient Rome who took vows of chastity and tended the sacred flame in the temple of the goddess Vesta. Their group numbered six at any one time. A vestal virgin could marry after her term of service was over, but to do so was considered bad luck. A vestal virgin who lost her virginity during her term of service was punished by being buried alive.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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