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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for vestige in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From French, from Latin vestīgium (footstep, footprint, track, the sole of the foot, a trace, mark).



vestige (plural vestiges)

  1. The mark of the foot left on the earth; a track or footstep
    Synonyms: trace, sign
  2. A faint mark or visible sign left by something which is lost, or has perished, or is no longer present; remains.
    the vestiges of ancient magnificence in Palmyra;  vestiges of former population
    • 1788, James Hutton, Theory of the earth, page 166:
      The result, therefore, of this physical inquiry is, that we find no vestige of a beginning,— no prospect of an end.
    • 1871, Charles Darwin, Descent of Man, Chapter I:
      Nevertheless in some cases, my original view, that the points are vestiges of the tips of formerly erect and pointed ears, still seems to me probable.
    • 1895, H. G. Wells, The Time Machine, Chapter VIII:
      Only ragged vestiges of glass remained in its windows, and great sheets of the green facing had fallen away from the corroded metallic framework.
    • 1911, “Angkor”, in 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica:
      The chief remains of the Roman Calagurris are the vestiges of an aqueduct and an amphitheatre.
    • 1944, Miles Burton, chapter 5, in The Three Corpse Trick:
      The hovel stood in the centre of what had once been a vegetable garden, but was now a patch of rank weeds. Surrounding this, almost like a zareba, was an irregular ring of gorse and brambles, an unclaimed vestige of the original common.
  3. (biology) A vestigial organ; a non-functional organ or body part that was once functional in an evolutionary ancestor.
    • 1904 Transactions of the [] annual session, Volume 40, Homeopathic Medical Society of the State of Pennsylvania, p160
      Any person seeing such a condition could not help being frightened at the conditions found, and it seems to me that that fact should lead us to think that the appendix is a vestige or becoming so.
    • 1932 John Arthur Thomson, Riddles of science, Ayer Publishing, p824
      Now this paired organ of Jacobsen began in reptiles and is well developed in many mammals. But in man it is a vestige, often disappearing altogether; and the two openings are closed.
    • 2007 R. Randal Bollingera, Andrew S. Barbasa, Errol L. Busha, Shu S. Lina, & William Parkera, "Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix," Journal of Theoretical Biology
      This idea was confirmed by Scott, who performed a detailed comparative analysis of primate anatomy and demonstrated conclusively that the appendix is derived for some unidentified function and is not a vestige.

Derived termsEdit


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  • (file)



  1. (archaic) singular present subjunctive of vestigen




vestige m (plural vestiges)

  1. vestige, relic

Further readingEdit