rec·​ti·​tude | \ ˈrek-tə-ˌtüd How to pronounce rectitude (audio) , -ˌtyüd \

Definition of rectitude

1 : the quality or state of being straight
2 : moral integrity : righteousness
3 : the quality or state of being correct in judgment or procedure

The Right Definition of Rectitude

Rectitude has a righteous derivation. It comes straight from the Latin adjective rectus, which means both "right" and "straight." Rectitude itself can mean either "straightness" (an early use referred to literal straightness of lines, although this sense is now rare) or "rightness" of character. Rectus has a number of other descendants in English, including rectangle (a figure with four right angles), rectify ("to make right"), rectilinear ("moving in or forming a straight line"), and even rectus itself (a medical term for any one of several straight muscles in the body).

Examples of rectitude in a Sentence

encouraged the graduates to go on to live lives of unimpeachable rectitude and integrity has a finely honed sense of rectitude that keeps him from cheating on exams
Recent Examples on the Web All awards organizations struggled to balance commercialism, celebration, and ethical rectitude during the pandemic. Lee Seymour, Forbes, 22 Sep. 2021 But the path to a better future has been blocked by partisanship and misguided concepts of fiscal rectitude. James Freeman, WSJ, 6 Aug. 2021 Republicans used Democrats’ moral rectitude as a ruse for accomplishing their longstanding goal of pushing the poor off of the government dole. Bryce Covert, The New Republic, 20 Aug. 2021 One of the things that history is good for is puncturing our sanctimonious self-satisfaction about our own moral rectitude. David Marchese, New York Times, 31 May 2021 While the budget blueprint is expected to rely on only Democratic votes, enough Republicans need to be convinced of the infrastructure deal’s fiscal rectitude to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold. New York Times, 13 July 2021 Though López Obrador campaigned as an anti-corruption crusader, his party includes more dubious figures who lack his reputation for personal rectitude. Washington Post, 3 May 2021 The case against the kangaroo business brings with it a sense of rectitude that transcends borders. New York Times, 22 May 2021 West Point officials have expelled eight cadets and required more than 50 others to repeat a year of instruction after the most extensive cheating scandal in more than 40 years at the Army's renowned academy with a reputation for moral rectitude. Tom Vanden Brook, USA TODAY, 16 Apr. 2021

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rectitude.' 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 rectitude

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for rectitude

Middle English, from Middle French, from Late Latin rectitudo, from Latin rectus straight, right

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The first known use of rectitude was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

14 Dec 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rectitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 17 Jan. 2022.

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English Language Learners Definition of rectitude

: the quality of being honest and morally correct

More from Merriam-Webster on rectitude

Nglish: Translation of rectitude for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of rectitude for Arabic Speakers


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