Chastity is the state of being chaste or pure. The term was originally used to describe the sexual behavior of a man or woman as it conformed to the moral standards or guidelines of their culture or religion. However, the term is currently used to describe sexual abstinence particularly before marriage.

The words chaste and chastity both come from the Latin word castus meaning “”pure.”” When these words became part of the English language in the mid-13th century, chaste meant pure from unlawful sexual intercourse (or extramarital sex), and chastity referred to a woman’s virginity. However, by the end of the 16th century, the difference between the two terms became less distinct.

Because of its modern definition, sexual abstinence is often used as a synonym for chastity.