righ·​teous | \ ˈrī-chəs How to pronounce righteous (audio) \

Definition of righteous

1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
2a : morally right or justifiable a righteous decision
b : arising from an outraged sense of justice or morality righteous indignation
3 slang : genuine, excellent

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Other Words from righteous

righteously adverb
righteousness noun

Choose the Right Synonym for righteous

moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous, noble mean conforming to a standard of what is right and good. moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong. the basic moral values of a community ethical may suggest the involvement of more difficult or subtle questions of rightness, fairness, or equity. committed to the highest ethical principles virtuous implies moral excellence in character. not a religious person, but virtuous nevertheless righteous stresses guiltlessness or blamelessness and often suggests the sanctimonious. wished to be righteous before God and the world noble implies moral eminence and freedom from anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character. had the noblest of reasons for seeking office

Examples of righteous in a Sentence

The mix of Yorkshire-inherited bluntness and a caustic, chirpy South London cynicism (vividly parodied and perhaps too endearingly celebrated in the voice of Dora Chance, narrator of Wise Children) stops her from sounding righteous or dogmatic. — Hermione Lee, Times Literary Supplement, 19 June 1992 I didn't know until long after I was grown that Grandpa Durham—that stern and righteous Baptist—sometimes made persimmon beer and cooled it in the cistern. — Jim W. Corder, Chronicle of a Small Town, 1989 He was foreman at Lyman's North End foundry, the largest stove-making foundry in the city, and had risen in eleven years, despite his lung ailment, from apprentice to moulder to chief grievance spokesman, a voice of righteous reason from below. — William Kennedy, Harper's, March 1988 The Believers tried to lead a simple, righteous life, practicing pacifism and confession of sins and recognizing the equality of all humankind. — Robert P. Emlen, Natural History, September 1987 a righteous man can be trusted to act honorably regardless of the circumstances righteous behavior is its own reward
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Recent Examples on the Web Where debt caused the middle-class families in Zaloom’s study to feel shame and insecurity, young people nowadays talk about it freely, with righteous indignation. Hua Hsu, The New Yorker, "Student Debt Is Transforming the American Family," 2 Sep. 2019 Throughout the Trump presidency—which has engendered (much more righteous) fury among the Democratic base—that anger has been squandered. Libby Watson, The New Republic, "Brett Kavanaugh Has Democrats Running Scared," 17 Sep. 2019 And yet here, in a sci-fi twist that doesn’t mirror our present cultural controversies, the futuristic police are purely in the camp of the righteous and the good. Todd Martens, Los Angeles Times, "What to Play: In ‘Astral Chain,’ anime cops are the good guys — and save lost cats," 11 Sep. 2019 So all you delusional and fake religious/self-righteous weirdos unfollow and unsubscribe. Paula Rogo, Essence, "Ari Lennox Claps Back At Homophobic People: 'If You Don’t Support LGBTQ Community, You Don’t Support Me'," 3 Sep. 2019 Having spent three decades overturning the convictions of the wrongly imprisoned and defending anyone on Death Row, Stevenson has been at the vanguard of a righteous fight. John Defore, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Just Mercy': Film Review | TIFF 2019," 7 Sep. 2019 Dressing up as righteous dude Ferris Bueller, his brooding best friend Cameron Frye, his sophisticated sweetheart Sloane Peterson, or his jealous sister Jeanie Bueller. Tierney Mcafee, Country Living, "The Best 'Ferris Bueller' Costume Ideas to Channel Your Inner Teenager This Halloween," 3 Sep. 2019 Meanwhile, their father Felipe (Edward James Olmos) is struggling to lead his sons down a righteous path. Chuck Barney, Detroit Free Press, "TV highlights for the week of Sept. 1-7," 1 Sep. 2019 Seeing Macdonald’s Willowdean lodge a righteous protest, find her inner Dolly Parton, and get the hot guy — in other words, seeing her get to be a protagonist who just happens to be fat — was a revelation. Kate Harding, Teen Vogue, "How Far Have We Really Come for Fat Acceptance?," 26 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'righteous.' 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 righteous

1530, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for righteous

alteration of earlier rightuous, alteration of Middle English rightwise, rightwos, from Old English rihtwīs, from riht, noun, right + wīs wise

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Statistics for righteous

Last Updated

26 Oct 2019

Time Traveler for righteous

The first known use of righteous was in 1530

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More Definitions for righteous


How to pronounce righteous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of righteous

: morally good : following religious or moral laws
: caused by something that you believe is not morally right or fair


righ·​teous | \ ˈrī-chəs How to pronounce righteous (audio) \

Kids Definition of righteous

1 : doing or being what is just or proper righteous people a righteous action
2 : caused by an insult to what is believed to be just or proper righteous anger

Other Words from righteous

righteously adverb righteously angry

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Comments on righteous

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


meddlesome, informal, or unofficial

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