for·​ti·​tude ˈfȯr-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce fortitude (audio)
: strength of mind that enables a person to encounter danger or bear pain or adversity with courage
obsolete : strength

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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”; William Shakespeare used it that way in Henry VI, Part 1: “Coward of France! How much he wrongs his fame / Despairing of his own arm's fortitude.” But despite use by the Bard of Avon, that meaning languished and is now considered obsolete. Even the familiar phrase “intestinal fortitude” is just a humorous way to refer to someone’s courage or mental stamina, not the literal strength of their digestive system. (If you’re looking to describe such a gastrointestinal tract, we might suggest “iron stomach.”)

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
Recent Examples on the Web His wife, despite her fortitude in the retreat from Delhi, now languished in their official residence, plagued by a relentless succession of ailments. Adam Goodheart, Smithsonian Magazine, 25 Sep. 2023 Or, those with more time and fortitude can make the seven-mile trek across the sandbar between Antelope and Fremont islands when the water is low, either by foot, bike or e-bike. Leia Larsen, The Salt Lake Tribune, 31 July 2023 On the other hand, addressing social issues through a framework of brand values gives us the fortitude to persevere in enacting change that can win the trust of stakeholders, withstand future challenges, and drive long-term impact. Daniel Lubetzky, Fortune, 8 Aug. 2023 The victory was a testament to the Wolverines’ grit and mental fortitude, two traits Harbaugh has imbued in his program. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, 18 Aug. 2023 Distance running requires mental fortitude, a lot of sweat equity, and great running shoes. Caroline Lubinsky, Men's Health, 16 Aug. 2023 Penn, who appeared in 18 games the past three seasons while collecting 22 tackles, lost a total of 15 pounds in his offseason evolution and showcased a fresh fortitude on 12 consecutive plays during a drive-series drill in fall practice. Evan Dudley, al, 16 Aug. 2023 Graham’s mental fortitude stood out to Mark before any of his raw athletic abilities did. Shawn McFarland, Dallas News, 7 Aug. 2023 On Sunday afternoon against the New York Mets, Hyde managed his bullpen as if its middle relievers have the same fortitude as the All-Star pairing on the back end. Jacob Calvin Meyer, Baltimore Sun, 6 Aug. 2023 See More

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

Word History


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

First Known Use

12th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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


Dictionary Entries Near fortitude

Cite this Entry

“Fortitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

Kids Definition


for·​ti·​tude ˈfȯrt-ə-ˌt(y)üd How to pronounce fortitude (audio)
: strength of mind that enables a person to meet danger or bear pain or hardship with courage

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