A keyboard instrument popular in the Renaissance in England that is related to the harpsichord. A virginal has one set of strings and jacks, and one keyboard; it is distinguishable from a spinet in that the strings run parallel to the keyboard rather than at an angle. The virginal enjoyed popularity in the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when several books were written containing music for it, among them the famous Fitzwilliam Virginal Book.Virginal is a small harpsichord of varied shape and size. the word was used very generally in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for instruments of this type, with a keyboard and a mechanism by which quills plucked the horizontally stretched strings. the etymology of the word is uncertain, although it allowed obvious scope for Elizabethan and Jacobean punsters