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

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The Right Definition of Rectitude

Rectitude has a righteous derivation. It comes straight from the Latin noun 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 Even if New Delhi has exaggerated the 1.45 trillion rupees ($20.5 billion) estimated cost of its largess, the government might need to cut spending sharply for a second year to retain any claim to fiscal rectitude. Washington Post, "India Sends Up the Monetary Helicopters," 24 Sep. 2019 Trump abandoned fiscal rectitude long ago, of course. John Cassidy, The New Yorker, "The Future of Working-Class Conservatism in the U.K. and the U.S.," 18 Dec. 2019 Image After returning from four years in Paris at the end of 2000, Mr. Rohatyn, a compact man of sober, occasionally stern rectitude, settled into the role of wise eminence. New York Times, "Felix G. Rohatyn, Financier Who Piloted New York’s Rescue, Dies at 91," 14 Dec. 2019 Get our daily newsletter Europe is quick to preach to the rest of the world on matters of financial rectitude—through its leadership of the IMF, for example, and its key role in the Financial Action Task Force, a body that fights financial crime. The Economist, "Another piece of Europe’s financial architecture needs fixing," 19 Oct. 2019 Then, as the tenor saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock wove small, asymmetrical patterns around her, Ms. Serpa started to sing, using no words but maintaining the sense of inquiry and rectitude that her reading had established. Giovanni Russonello, New York Times, "Review: A Jazzfest Marathon Where Voices Lead the Way to Resistance and Renewal," 15 Jan. 2018 What do evangelicals see in Donald Trump, if not moral rectitude? Tara Isabella Burton, Vox, "Historian and author John Fea on Trump’s “court evangelicals” and the long history of Christian nationalism.," 5 Nov. 2018 Those surveyed express significantly higher levels of trust in Mueller's rectitude than in Trump's denials that his campaign colluded with Russia to interfere in the 2016 election. Chris Stirewalt, Fox News, "St. Beto and the August altar call," 30 Aug. 2018 As his assistant Ventura (Juan Minujín) starts behaving more like a rival and his landlord’s virtuous daughters sneak men into their bedrooms, Zama’s mask of rectitude slips and with it his grasp on reality. Ty Burr,, "‘Zama’ is Lucrecia Martel’s latest one-of-a-kind offering," 4 July 2018

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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Time Traveler for rectitude

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

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Last Updated

9 Jan 2020

Cite this Entry

“Rectitude.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 19 January 2020.

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How to pronounce rectitude (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of rectitude

formal : the quality of being honest and morally correct

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Comments on rectitude

What made you want to look up rectitude? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to insert between existing elements

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