Definition of celibate in English:



  • 1Abstaining from marriage and sexual relations, typically for religious reasons.

    ‘a celibate priest’
    • ‘Living a simple life, being vegetarian, abstaining from cigarettes and alcohol, being celibate, and dedicating his actions to the welfare of all beings are ways in which a Buddhist monk tries to improve the world.’
    • ‘This may stem from the Roman Catholic view, where intimacy, even within the context of marriage, is considered a concession to base instincts, while sacred priests and nuns are celibate.’
    • ‘The Boston archdiocese's official newspaper said this week the Roman Catholic Church must face the question of whether to continue to require priests to be celibate.’
    • ‘Last night, in an address to bishops in Nigeria, Pope John Paul II insisted that priests must live celibate lives and avoid scandalous behaviour.’
    • ‘The Shakers, for example, is one religious group that required its members to be celibate: the only new Shakers came from recruitment.’
    • ‘The origins of this celibate American religious movement can be traced to Sayville, Long Island, New York, where Father Divine came to public attention in the 1920s.’
    • ‘Since priests are celibate, what does their sexual orientation have to do with it anyway?’
    • ‘He was to become a priest and lead the celibate life.’
    • ‘Sonflowers says women from north of the Border have contacted them for support after having children with Scottish priests or long-term affairs with supposedly celibate clergymen.’
    • ‘The archbishop has said priests need not be celibate and that God's blessings were meant to be given through the family.’
    • ‘A few celibate members live with their families for personal or professional reasons and are known as ‘associates’.’
    • ‘He astonished his friends and family by attempting to become a celibate priest but two years of seminary studies persuaded him he lacked a vocation.’
    • ‘In the east, the upper ecclesiastical echelons - patriarchs in particular - were recruited from monasteries and therefore were celibate, but ordinary priests were allowed to marry.’
    • ‘Large numbers did not marry at all, deciding to remain celibate, some for religious reasons, others, it has been suggested, due to a certain embarrassment about sex.’
    • ‘He said the priesthood should be open to both married and celibate priests and urged a full debate within the Church on what he described as a ‘very serious question’.’
    • ‘Among the Armenians there are celibate and married priests.’
    • ‘Religious dress and grave goods were used to differentiate celibate priests and monks from ordinary secular men.’
    • ‘What is more important, to allow people a better chance of getting to mass on Sunday or to keep priests celibate?’
    • ‘And it includes persons who were celibate and still champions of marriage, such as Paul and our Lord.’
    • ‘But they dismissed questions about whether married priests were an option, saying a celibate priesthood was not the reason for the shortage.’
    virginal, virgin, intact, maidenly, maiden, unmarried, unwed
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    1. 1.1 Having or involving no sexual relations.
      ‘a celibate lifestyle’
      • ‘This annoys me no end, especially considering the piles of people I know who are perfectly desirable but single or celibate or virgins because of random situations.’
      • ‘A wholly celibate marriage is thus in principle quite conceivable, as is some variation of marriage between those more at home physically with those of their own gender.’
      • ‘Mitropoulos, who appears to have led a largely celibate lifestyle, nevertheless seems to have known enough about love and lust to portray them unforgettably in music.’
      • ‘Yet, extant research suggests that a significant minority of these individuals may choose to discontinue all sexual relations and become celibate for at least some period following their diagnosis.’
      • ‘Single rats have been known to lead celibate lives in the comfort of domestic house attics for several months while the house occupants are unaware of their existence.’
      • ‘If you're single, or have made a conscious decision to be celibate, you may be quite happy without having sex for a while.’
      • ‘Single men were 20 times more likely to be celibate than married men.’
      • ‘Clearly this person is celibate or single, because there is no way anyone could get intimate with her without losing an eye.’
      • ‘Single women in this context were assumed to be celibate.’
      • ‘This is one example of the way technology has been harnessed to ensure that if a woman didn't want to get pregnant, she could take steps to ensure that this didn't happen, without opting for a celibate lifestyle.’
      • ‘I'm seeing more and more celibate relationships within marriage.’
      • ‘Single and celibate for 17 years, she loved her husband, but says she doesn't miss him.’
      • ‘These broads have been forcibly celibate for decades after their husbands dump them.’
      • ‘You do need to look at the underlying reasons for your celibate marriage and how you want to proceed with your husband.’
      • ‘There is no agreement about the town he came from, his age at the time of the apparitions, whether he was married or a widower, or whether he and his wife had children or lived in a celibate marriage.’
      • ‘I hope for his sake he's single, or in a celibate relationship, or he'll be building up quite an audience soon.’
      • ‘I know what it is like to be heterosexual, single, and celibate and it is tough.’
      • ‘However, I did not force my husband to remain as celibate as I had to be.’
      • ‘Due to a personal spiritual quest, Radha's husband has remained celibate for 13 years.’
      • ‘Maude Guérin plays a lone wolf detective in the Prime Suspect mold - a single woman on the Quebec City homicide squad whose celibate lifestyle is legendary.’
      unmarried, single, unwed, spouseless, wifeless, husbandless
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  • A person who abstains from marriage and sexual relations.

    ‘he's attracted and attractive to women and yet he lives as a celibate’
    • ‘The majority of partnered celibates started out having satisfactory relationships, but slowly stopped having sex as time went on.’
    • ‘While celibates, particularly females, were equally fearful, personal and religious morality were their main reasons for this lifestyle choice; HIV / AIDS concern was secondary.’
    • ‘In any event, no one could accuse him of being a remote celibate who did not know what he was talking about.’
    • ‘This example is to be contrasted with that of the celibate who decides that the most fulfilling life for him will be one of abstinence.’
    • ‘For the first six centuries of its existence, Cambridge, like Oxford, was a seminary, and until 1871 fellows were required to be celibates in holy orders.’
    • ‘The leaves are said to be invigorating and an aphrodisiac and, therefore, not to be used by celibates and ascetics.’
    • ‘In September 1998, one of the members of an on-line discussion group for involuntary celibates approached the first author via e-mail to ask about current research on involuntary celibacy.’
    • ‘So common was lifelong celibacy and so little accepted were Freudian theories about the dominance of the sexual impulse, that nobody questioned these celibates or looked at them askance.’
    • ‘I think what we might call the mystical strain in Christianity has always been extraordinarily important to me, and I think that's probably why this life suits me because I suspect I am probably a born celibate.’
    • ‘As all celibates do, they sometimes struggle with the vowed life, but if they find themselves too much at odds with chastity, they leave the order.’
    • ‘To test the ludicrousness of that line of thinking, imagine what it would be like if we were all God-fearing celibates.’
    • ‘On the other hand, early Christian male celibates come in for rough treatment for their hatred of the body and ‘misogyny.’’
    • ‘He says at one point, for example, that it would have been highly unusual for a Jewish man in the 1st century to have been a celibate.’
    • ‘Among the Milanese aristocracy in the years 1600-49, for instance, the percentage of celibates, men and women, is stunning: 49 per cent of the men, 75 per cent of the women.’
    • ‘And it seems odd for celibates, of all people, to instruct the rest of us about the relations of the sexes.’
    • ‘Most current priests, he claims, aren't miserable as celibates, and they're no more emotionally immature than most men.’
    • ‘People over 60 are expected to be sexless creatures or, at any rate, celibates.’
    • ‘Thirty-five percent of celibates expressed dissatisfaction, frustration, or anger about their lack of sexual relationships, and this was true regardless of their partnership status.’
    • ‘But, as anyone trying to become informed about the matter knows, there is no sociological evidence suggesting that celibates are more likely to abuse children than are married men.’
    • ‘The celibates, when they did consider beginning a relationship, were the most cautious.’
    abstainer, recluse, hermit, solitary, anchorite, anchoress, desert saint, celibate, puritan, nun, monk
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Early 19th century (earlier ( mid 17th century) as celibacy): from French célibat or Latin caelibatus ‘unmarried state’ + -ate.