Explicating a Virtue

On the Eighteenth-Century Concept of "Chastity"


  • Heli Tissari




18th-century English, celibacy, chastity, marraige, virginity, natural semantic metalanguage (NSM)


This article explicates the eighteenth-century English concept of “chastity” through analyzing the noun chastity, the adjective chaste and the adverb chastely in the Corpus of Late Modern English Texts 3.1. Nine prominent characteristics of “chastity” are examined to arrive at an explication of “sexual chastity”. Firstly, chastity was considered (1) a virtue. Secondly, it often meant (2) virginity or complete abstinence from sex. However, it also referred to (3) marital love. Eighteenth-century authors were more prone to discuss (4) women’s than men’s chastity. Metaphorically, chastity was considered a (5) valuable commodity, and it was discussed in terms of (6) attack and defence, and of (7) purity. Chastity was supposed to characterize a person’s (8) acts, behaviour, and comportment. The understanding of these characteristics had (9) religious underpinnings.




How to Cite

Tissari, H. (2022). Explicating a Virtue : On the Eighteenth-Century Concept of "Chastity". Scandinavian Studies in Language, 13(1), 118–143. https://doi.org/10.7146/sss.v13i1.135075