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

Keep scrolling for more

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

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 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about rectitude

Listen to Our Podcast about rectitude

Statistics for rectitude

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for rectitude

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for rectitude



English Language Learners Definition of rectitude

formal : the quality of being honest and morally correct

Keep scrolling for more

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 make a temporary encampment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Musical Words Quiz

  • gramophone
  • Which word describes a musical performance marked by the absence of instrumental accompaniment?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!