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Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, The Immaculate Conception (1767–1769),[n 1] which depicts the Immaculate Conception (sense 2.3) of the Virgin Mary.

From Late Middle English immaculat, immaculate (blameless; flawless, spotless; specifically of the Virgin Mary: pure, undefiled),[1] borrowed from Latin immaculātus (unstained) (whence Late Latin inmaculatus (unstained; (by extension) free from sin, pure)), from im- (variant of in- (prefix meaning ‘not’)) + maculātus (stained, spotted; defiled, polluted; (figurative) dishonoured)[2] (the perfect passive participle of maculō (to spot, stain; to defile, pollute; (figurative) to dishonour), from macula (a blemish, spot, stain; (figurative) blot on one’s character, fault), ultimately from Proto-Indo-European *smh₂-tló-m (wiping (?)), from *smeh₁- (to rub; to smear)). Doublet of mail (“armour”). The word displaced Middle English unwemmed (pure, untainted).



immaculate (comparative more immaculate, superlative most immaculate)

  1. Having no blemish or stain; absolutely clean and tidy.
    Synonyms: clear, lily-white, spotless, stainless, unsullied; see also Thesaurus:clean
    Antonyms: unimmaculate; see also Thesaurus:unclean
    • 1595 December 9 (first known performance), [William Shakespeare], The Tragedie of King Richard the Second. [] (First Quarto), London: [] Valentine Simmes for Androw Wise, [], published 1597, →OCLC, [Act V, scene iii], signature I2, recto:
      O loyall Father, of a treacherous Sonne, / Thou ſheere immaculate and ſiluer Fountaine, / From vvhence this ſtreame, through muddy paſſages, / Hath held his current, and defild himſelfe.
    • p. 1597, J[ohn] Donne, “Satyre IIII”, in Poems, [] with Elegies on the Authors Death, London: [] M[iles] F[lesher] for Iohn Marriot, [], published 1633, →OCLC, page 344:
      So in immaculate clothes, and Symetrie / Perfect as circles, vvith ſuch nicetie / As a young Preacher at his firſt time goes / To preach, he enters, []
    • 1733, “an Eminent Hand” [pseudonym; Alexander Pope], The Impertinent, or A Visit to the Court. A Satyr. [], London: [] John Wil[f]ord, [], →OCLC, page 15:
      So firſt to preach a vvhite-glov'd Chaplain goes, / VVith Band of Lily, and vvith Cheek of Roſe, / Svveeter than Sharon, in immaculate trim, / Neatneſs itſelf impertinent in him.
    • 1856, Harriet Beecher Stowe, “The Gordon Family”, in Dred; a Tale of the Great Dismal Swamp. [], volume I, Boston, Mass.: Phillips, Sampson and Company, →OCLC, page 52:
      Every rustle of her silvery silk gown, every fold of the snowy kerchief on her neck, every plait of her immaculate cap, spoke a soul long retired from this world and its cares.
  2. (figurative)
    1. Containing no mistakes.
      Synonyms: flawless, impeccable, perfect
      Antonym: unimmaculate
      1. (specifically) Of a book, manuscript, etc.: having no textual errors.
    2. (archaic) Free from sin; morally pure; sinless.
      Synonyms: irreproachable; see also Thesaurus:pure
      Antonyms: maculate, unimmaculate; see also Thesaurus:impure
    3. (Roman Catholicism) Of the Virgin Mary or her womb: pure, undefiled.
  3. (botany, zoology, especially entomology) Lacking blotches, spots, or other markings.
    Synonyms: self-coloured, spotless, unspotted
    Antonyms: maculate, maculated, spotted

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  1. ^ From the collection of the Museo del Prado in Madrid, Spain.


  1. ^ immaculāt(e, adj.”, in MED Online, Ann Arbor, Mich.: University of Michigan, 2007.
  2. ^ immaculate, adj.”, in OED Online Paid subscription required, Oxford, Oxfordshire: Oxford University Press, July 2023; “immaculate, adj.”, in Lexico,; Oxford University Press, 2019–2022.




  1. vocative masculine singular of immaculātus