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

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 See More
Recent Examples on the Web Sutz expanded his work to include Holocaust liberators, righteous gentiles, and other genocide survivors. AZCentral.com, 17 Oct. 2021 In the book of Job, Satan and God place a bet on whether Job, a most righteous man, will curse God if enough suffering and hardship befall him. Meghan O'gieblyn, Wired, 6 Oct. 2021 While typhus had devastating effects in the ghetto, Frydel notes ways that righteous gentiles used public health information about typhus outside of the ghetto as a means to help save Jews in hiding. Courtney Sexton, Smithsonian Magazine, 27 July 2020 And the outsized response taught him that a little righteous indignation can go a long way with an audience. Damian Garde, STAT, 25 Mar. 2022 The teens, slouching from one end of the stage to the next, are unbearably self-righteous. New York Times, 10 Apr. 2022 But our righteous anger should be tempered with humility. Joel Mathis, The Week, 7 Apr. 2022 While this feeling is righteous considering the onslaught of disenfranchisement — especially when women, the LGBTQ+ community, and people of color are concerned — there’s also so much to honor about why many stayed. Brea Baker, refinery29.com, 29 Mar. 2022 But that’s the great thing about working in a subgenre designed to make triumphant music out of personal turmoil and righteous anger — it’s a weirdly solid preparation for the clobberings of adulthood. Joe Gross, Rolling Stone, 24 Feb. 2022 See More

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.

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

Learn More About righteous

Time Traveler for righteous

Time Traveler

The first known use of righteous was in 1530

See more words from the same year

Dictionary Entries Near righteous



right face

See More Nearby Entries 

Statistics for righteous

Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Righteous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/righteous. Accessed 19 May. 2022.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

More Definitions for righteous


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

More from Merriam-Webster on righteous

Nglish: Translation of righteous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of righteous for Arabic Speakers


Test Your Vocabulary

Eponyms: Words Named After People

Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Universal Daily Crossword

A daily challenge for crossword fanatics.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

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