rec·ti·tude | \ˈrek-tə-ˌtüd, -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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Synonyms & Antonyms for rectitude


honesty, honor, integrity, probity, righteousness, uprightness


baseness, dishonor, lowness

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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

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 Many Southern Baptists said the series of scandals besetting the convention have been particularly upsetting for a religious movement that prides itself on theological clarity and moral rectitude. Daniel Burke, CNN, "'A foretaste of the wrath of God:' Southern Baptists to confront scandals at national meeting," 11 June 2018 Europe File Yet Portugal under António Costa has proved a model of fiscal rectitude, while making tough decisions to clean up the banking system. Simon Nixon, WSJ, "Portuguese Lessons for Spain and Italy," 4 June 2018 In Venezuela, Hugo Chávez’s successor has plunged his country into chaos; in Bolivia, President Evo Morales has been a model of fiscal rectitude, bringing economic growth and slashing inequality. Peter Ford, The Christian Science Monitor, "In Italy's new government, a glimpse of populism's scope – and limits," 8 June 2018 Other than that, Elizabeth has been the model of rectitude and thrift in the public eye for over 50 years now. Will Frears,, "The Real Housewives of Kensington Palace," 20 Mar. 2011 But another element of the business model — evangelical broadcasting’s aura of rectitude — was about to take a hit. Alec Macgillis/propublica, New York Times, "How Liberty University Built a Billion-Dollar Empire Online," 17 Apr. 2018 Both angles—the petty jibes over appearance and the high-flying discussion of moral fitness — suit the TV personality from whom viewers know by now to expect a flair for a certain self-dramatizing rectitude. Daniel D'addario, Time, "James Comey Met President Trump on His Own Terms – and Came Away Looking Smaller," 16 Apr. 2018 Despite all the claims that gaming in Massachusetts would meet the highest standards for moral rectitude, the scandal that proved Steve Wynn’s undoing surprised hardly anyone. Adrian Walker,, "Everett shouldn’t have to pay for Steve Wynn’s misdeeds," 15 Apr. 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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Statistics for rectitude

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4 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for rectitude

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

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English Language Learners Definition of rectitude

: the quality of being honest and morally correct

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