for·​ti·​tude | \ ˈfȯr-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce fortitude (audio) , -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 Ironically, the same group of people who lauded Margaret Garner's fortitude, ultimately silenced her. Sarah Haselhorst, The Enquirer, "Margaret Garner's story has resonated for the past 164 years. It's one she never got to tell," 30 July 2020 Facing this moment, this global pandemic, this mass death, must give us fortitude, strength, deep appreciation for our bodies and one another. Joseph Osmundson, The New Republic, "Covid-19 and the Limits of American Moral Reasoning," 30 July 2020 Religion, the spring from which fortitude has long flowed, is also in a difficult moment, because its traditional vocabulary has lost its meaning for many of us and is only at the beginning of a process of restatement. Avis D. Carlson, Harper's Magazine, "The Jitters," 23 June 2020 Billionaire Mark Cuban has no doubts that former Vice President Joe Biden has the mental fortitude to be the president. Anthony Leonardi, Washington Examiner, "Mark Cuban says Biden '100%' has 'stamina' to be president during endorsement," 24 June 2020 Tempered with reason and faced with an amount of fortitude not beyond the reach of most people, such fears have been tolerable, though of course unpleasant. Avis D. Carlson, Harper's Magazine, "The Jitters," 23 June 2020 The documentarians told the kids' stories with sensitivity, and viewers stood in awe of their physical prowess and emotional fortitude. Kelly Lawler, USA TODAY, "The 10 best TV shows of 2020 so far, from 'Jeopardy! GOAT' to 'BoJack Horseman'," 22 June 2020 Few people have the bladder fortitude to last through drinks, dinner, or long road trips without having to use the restroom. Sarah Gibbens, National Geographic, "In public toilets, flushing isn't the only COVID-19 risk," 19 June 2020 Donald Trump has never hesitated to tout his own health and fortitude. Adam Rogers, Wired, "No, You Don't Need to See President Trump's Medical Records," 19 June 2020

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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Time Traveler for fortitude

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

4 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fortitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for fortitude


How to pronounce fortitude (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of fortitude

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


for·​ti·​tude | \ ˈfȯr-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce fortitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Kids Definition of fortitude

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

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