The origin of vestige is said to be "from French, from Latin vestigium 'footprint'".

vest- means clothes, so does this prefix apply to vestige ?

  • No; vestments (clothing) derives from the Latin vestimentum. Moreover, M-W doesn't list vest- as a prefix.
    – Gnawme
    Nov 1, 2013 at 18:31
  • 2
    Don't overplay the significant of Latin vestigium = footprint. That's a "figurative" definition, not a literal one. The original Latin was probably just a general term meaning mark, [remaining] trace. Nov 1, 2013 at 18:31
  • 2
    Indeed. There's one particularly juicy Latin rape scene where the husband returns home to find "another man's footprints in his bed" if you translate it too literally.
    – Dan Hulme
    Nov 2, 2013 at 0:14

1 Answer 1


The etymologies of vestigo "to track" and vestis "clothing" are most probably not related, according to Lewis & Short:

vestis, is, f. [Sanscr. root vas-, to put on; Gr. ἑσ-, fεσ-; cf. ἕννυμι, ἐσθής], the covering for the body, clothes, clothing, attire, vesture

ve-stīgo, no perf. and sup., āre, 1, v. a. [etym. dub.; perh. Sanscr. vahis (bahis), out, and stigh-, to climb; cf. Gr. στίχος, a row, etc.; Angl. -Sax. stīgan; Germ. steigen, to climb].
I. Prop., to follow in the track of; to track, trace out

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