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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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 Their escape across the Antarctic sea-ice on foot and in lifeboats is an astonishing story of fortitude and survival. Colleen Reilly, Forbes, 8 June 2021 Seizing on dysfunction in America and the West, China has spun its mobilization against the virus into a narrative of fortitude and triumph—one that obscures key failings to control the outbreak’s initial spread. Dan Xin Huang, The New Republic, 24 May 2021 As Miller explains, the race isn't about time, but rather about skills, and frankly, about digging deep to find a mental fortitude to keep going. Stacey Leasca, Travel + Leisure, 28 Feb. 2021 Biden must help Americans find the fortitude to muscle through mandates and restrictions until enough of us get vaccinated. Dhruv Khullar, The New Yorker, 27 Jan. 2021 Take that as the price of your independence and fortitude, and embrace the noise as beautiful. Angela Chan, Forbes, 26 May 2021 But an undercurrent of tension — between the stamina and fortitude of Black Americans throughout history and the agony and injustice that required them to be those things — carries the series forward. Lauren Saria, The Arizona Republic, 25 May 2021 At Virginia’s Republican convention, which was held over the weekend, at least three female candidates promoted their grit and fortitude with weaponry. Washington Post, 10 May 2021 On the other hand, Meeks believes the key to building mental fortitude is to compete in multiple local and national ninja competitions. Alyson Rockhold, Chron, 7 May 2021

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

18 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fortitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for fortitude



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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