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 In this austere telling, disputed by many economists, the current splurge is a vindication of fiscal rectitude, rather than its negation. The Economist, "Hey, big spenders Germany opens the money tap," 11 June 2020 Such German efforts are turning a page for the country after years of balanced budgets, driven by an orthodoxy of fiscal rectitude. Craig Stirling, Fortune, "Step aside, gents. Lagarde and Merkel take the lead in rebuilding Europe’s economy," 6 June 2020 At Notre Dame, Barr also asserted that only members of the Christian faith possess the moral rectitude for American democracy. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "Bill Barr’s Invisible Crusade," 8 June 2020 Lehrer’s professional rectitude and discipline (as well as his profound sense of patriotism) came from his hitch in the Marine Corps. Paul Farhi, Washington Post, "Always low-key, Jim Lehrer anchored TV news for grown-ups," 23 Jan. 2020 Herman, the patriarch of the family (played by Morgan Spector), is particularly outraged, in a performance that for me swerved into stagey rectitude. Taylor Antrim, Vogue, "The Plot Against America," 16 Mar. 2020 But repetition takes a toll, and Hunter's testimony would have amplified doubts about the Bidens' rectitude. Tom Benning, Dallas News, "So many winners: Impeachment left bitterness but offered something for almost everyone as it turned out," 6 Feb. 2020 Hjorth seems to be suggesting that rectitude can be the enemy of justice, and that neutrality can be a form of self-dealing. Lauren Collins, The New Yorker, "The Norwegian Novel That Divided a Family and Captivated a Country," 30 Sep. 2019 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

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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Cite this Entry

“Rectitude.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 Sep. 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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