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 Like those of Jack Nicklaus and Nancy Lopez, both of whom have long been celebrated for their character and rectitude. Eamon Lynch, Detroit Free Press, "Donald Trump is a scar on the game of golf: Opinion," 10 Jan. 2021 Alter praises Carter’s moral rectitude and attention to detail, and laments that his tenure is so often seen as a lesson that high-mindedness rarely succeeds in politics. The New Yorker, "Briefly Noted," 19 Oct. 2020 At the same time, liberty must be accompanied by rectitude, at least to a degree. Jay Nordlinger, National Review, "The Great American Divorce?," 21 Dec. 2020 In the conciliatory tones of his maiden speech as president-elect, Biden made a pitch to our better natures in a manner that reverberated with Finch-like magnanimity and rectitude. Washington Post, "In Biden victory, a cast change: Out with Richard III, in with Atticus Finch," 9 Nov. 2020 Or were her emotional upheavals alarmingly anti-British and rather unhinged, a debasement of centuries of stiff-upper-lip rectitude? Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "‘The Crown’ Has Had Its Scandals, but There’s Nothing Like Diana," 12 Nov. 2020 Baker, a model of rectitude in contrast to Cohn’s recklessness, led the recount case in the 2000 election that elevated George W. Bush to the presidency. Star Tribune, "Country could use a 'James Baker-like' figure," 6 Nov. 2020 The presidency has become an avatar for the two opposing forces in American politics, one through which each hopes not merely to implement its preferred policies but also to reaffirm its sense of ultimate rectitude. Jack Butler, National Review, "The Presidency Matters Far Too Much," 3 Nov. 2020 The screening of who is entitled to burial does not include a background check on lifetime rectitude! San Diego Union-Tribune, "Commentary: I visit Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery to reflect on life, death, respect and redemption," 27 Oct. 2020

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

17 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Rectitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Jan. 2021.

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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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