1610s, "state of celibacy" (especially as mandated to clergy in the Catholic church) from French célibat (16c.), from Latin caelibatus "state of being unmarried" (see celibacy). This was the only sense until early 19c.; the meaning "one who is sworn to celibacy" is from 1838. Other nouns in this sense were celibatarian, celibatist, celibian.
updated on October 25, 2017