for·​ti·​tude | \ˈfȯr-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\

Definition of fortitude 

1 : strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage

2 obsolete : strength

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Did You Know?

Fortitude comes from the Latin word fortis, meaning "strong," and in English it has always been used primarily to describe strength of mind. For a time, the word was also used to mean physical strength - Shakespeare used that sense in The First Part of King Henry the Sixth:

"Coward of France! How much he wrongs his fame
Despairing of his own arm's fortitude." But despite use by the Bard, that second sense languished and is now considered obsolete."

Examples of fortitude in a Sentence

… everyone in the family was succored by Elizabeth's fortitude and steadfastness. — Nicholas Fox Weber, The Clarks Of Cooperstown, 2007 But now Frum, by having the fortitude to revisit that bizarre era, has half-persuaded me that the '70s, a partial negation of the '60s, in one way, were a partial confirmation of them in another. — Christopher Hitchens, Civilization, April/May 2000 He learned that war was a hurly-burly of violence in which men prevailed through imagination and the fortitude to struggle on despite reverses. — Neil Sheehan, A Bright Shining Lie, 1988 She has endured disappointments with fortitude and patience. it was only with the greatest fortitude that the Pilgrims were able to survive their first winter in Plymouth
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Recent Examples on the Web

There are plenty of questions about his size, defensive fortitude, and ability to finish in traffic. David Murphy,, "Five targets for Sixers at No. 10, starting with Mikal Bridges | David Murphy," 15 May 2018 The staple of this argument seems to be that against both Uruguay and the Red Devils, Les Blues out-thought and out-muscled their opponents with defensive fortitude, whilst retaining the attacking bite that their glut of forwards portend to., "Why Didier Deschamps Is Still a Problem Regardless of Leading France to the World Cup Final," 12 July 2018 There are women like her in this world with great fortitude, which has in turn [negatively impacted] their social lives. Candice Frederick, Harper's BAZAAR, "Dear White People’s Antoinette Robertson Brings Complexity to One of TV's Most Polarizing Characters," 1 June 2018 The same fortitude that worked for her on the farm becomes her sustenance away from it. Peter Rainer, The Christian Science Monitor, "'The Guardians' beautifully portrays the dynamics of a family farm in WWI France," 18 May 2018 Lauer’s longevity Lauer continues to show a fortitude that belies his 23 years and 14 big-league starts. Kevin Acee,, "Padres notes: Hedges' offense; Strahm's fire; Lauer's longevity," 6 July 2018 But with more teams either paying the luxury tax or perilously close to doing so, owners are showing fortitude toward biting the initial financial bullet to preserve future first-round picks. K.c. Johnson,, "Bulls plan patient approach in free agency, will focus first on re-signing Zach LaVine and David Nwaba," 30 June 2018 His mental fortitude, his health, his penchant for binge drinking, his pitching motion. Maria Torres, kansascity, "Depressed and broken, this Royals minor-leaguer quit. A year later, his dream is alive | The Kansas City Star," 19 May 2018 Perhaps the shout-out carried so much weight because Brooks himself was showing some serious fortitude in this proudly old-fashioned performance. Mikael Wood,, "Garth Brooks' Stagecoach performance was as old-fashioned as his dad jeans," 30 Apr. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fortitude.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fortitude

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for fortitude

Middle English, from Latin fortitudin-, fortitudo, from fortis — see fortify

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Last Updated

12 Oct 2018

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Time Traveler for fortitude

The first known use of fortitude was in the 12th century

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More Definitions for fortitude



English Language Learners Definition of fortitude

: mental strength and courage that allows someone to face danger, pain, etc.


for·​ti·​tude | \ˈfȯr-tə-ˌtüd, -ˌtyüd\

Kids Definition of fortitude

: strength of mind that lets a person meet danger, pain, or hardship with courage

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