cardinal virtue


: one of the four classically defined natural virtues prudence, justice, temperance, or fortitude
: a quality designated as a major virtue

Examples of cardinal virtue in a Sentence

the cardinal virtue of wool is that it retains its insulating properties even when wet
Recent Examples on the Web Doubt is a cardinal virtue in the sciences, which advance through skeptics’ willingness to question the experts. Washington Post, 16 Dec. 2020 Breaching tennis’ cardinal virtues of self-sufficiency and autonomy, the coach begins by telling this emotional woman to calm down. Jon Wertheim,, 11 Apr. 2018 Dialogue is one of their cardinal virtues, and most seemed determined to give Trump a hearing. Time, 25 Jan. 2018

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'cardinal virtue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of cardinal virtue was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near cardinal virtue

Cite this Entry

“Cardinal virtue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 2 Mar. 2024.

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