righ·​teous | \ˈrī-chəs \

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

The biggest irony about this righteous protest targeting this particular film is the pains the makers went to to avoid it. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "Read the "Weird" Email Conversation Between Margaret Cho and Tilda Swinton," 17 Dec. 2016 On Friday, Kathleen Breen Combes lit up the stage with sensual, righteous fury; one look and Aurora’s parents quailed with guilt. Jeffrey Gantz, BostonGlobe.com, "Boston Ballet reawakens ‘Sleeping Beauty’," 12 May 2018 That process may begin with righteous anger, as when Faye’s friends share stories about abusive exes and question gender roles. Eliana Dockterman, Time, "Rachel Cusk on Motherhood, Marriage and the Lived Truths Behind Kudos," 22 May 2018 White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, aka Suckabee, is still drinking the White House Kool-Aid—the special blend of indignant righteous and aloof ramblings that allows for unfathomable levels of heartlessness. Stephen A. Crockett Jr., The Root, "Sarah Huckabee Sanders Continues Her White-Tears Tour Despite Being Satan's Mouthpiece," 3 July 2018 What seems just and righteous to you through the eyes of an 18-year-old morph with wisdom and life experiences. Valerie Strauss, Washington Post, "He failed high school chemistry and algebra. Now a doctor, he went to his alma mater to tell graduating seniors about success.," 18 June 2018 Featuring performance from members of the Gay Men's Chorus and recognizing clergy and righteous among the nations who sheltered Jews from the Nazis. Jewish Journal, "Jewish events in Broward, Miami-Dade counties: April 11-17," 10 Apr. 2018 The final settling of accounts when God's wrath is unleashed upon the wicked and the righteous are rewarded. William Cummings, USA TODAY, "So what is this sexual harassment 'reckoning' everyone is talking about?," 17 Jan. 2018 Hopefully, the ruling will deter California’s politicians from continuing to trample on constitutional rights in their self-righteous fervor to impose their versions of political correctness on the state’s residents. Dan Walters, SFChronicle.com, "Supreme Court voids California law, upholds free speech," 27 June 2018

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

7 Dec 2018

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Time Traveler for righteous

The first known use of righteous was in 1530

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More Definitions for righteous



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 \

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
righteousness noun

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