vir·​ile | \ ˈvir-əl How to pronounce virile (audio) , ˈvir-ˌī(-ə)l, British also ˈvī(-ə)r-ˌī(-ə)l How to pronounce virile (audio) \

Definition of virile

1a : having traditionally masculine traits especially to a marked degree
b : characteristic of or associated with men : masculine
2 : having the nature, properties, or qualities of an adult male specifically : capable of functioning as a male in copulation

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Other Words from virile

virilely adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for virile


male, man-size (or man-sized), manlike, manly, mannish, masculine


unmanly, unmasculine

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Examples of virile in a Sentence

men were once expected to be interested only in such virile activities as hunting

Recent Examples on the Web

Their relationship has sometimes resembled an arm-wrestling contest, famously punctuated by virile handshakes, pungent tweets and enduring sharp differences on climate change and Iran. Washington Post, "Macron’s G-7 performance arms him for likely troubles ahead," 28 Aug. 2019 DiCaprio and Pitt display two kinds of masculinity: loud, demonstrative Rick, who lives for praise, and laconic, virile Cliff, who lives to be needed. Armond White, National Review, "Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time … in Hollywood Is His Best Film," 26 July 2019 All three pups have the same father, a virile male sea lion named Niko. Matt Mcnulty,, "Three Adorable Sea Lion Pups Born Within Days of Each Other at Dublin Zoo," 20 June 2019 Jordan Donica, whose virile voice matched his stature, received riotous applause as Lancelot, the knight who loves Arthur’s queen, embodied by the hysterical and ultimately heartbreaking Solea Pfeiffer. Ian Malone, Vogue, "Camelot Ruled the Stage at Lincoln Center Theater’s Benefit Gala," 5 Mar. 2019 Yet shows like The Tudors and Wolf Hall depict her as cunning and scorned, a woman who seduced her dead husband’s brother, who deserves to whither and die alone as a young, virile Henry VIII chases Anne Boleyn. Julie Kosin, Harper's BAZAAR, "The First Teaser Trailer for," 25 Jan. 2019 Sprung from the loins of the virile wellness industry, these next-gen pills and powders bear the seductive trappings of self-care. Jancee Dunn, Allure, "Pretty Pills: How Beauty Supplements Changed the Way We View Wellness," 2 Oct. 2018 The evening’s performance, led by French tenor Roberto Alagna (the virile Samson) and Latvian mezzo-soprano Elina Garanca (Dalila—the Bible’s original femme fatale), was live-streamed from 42nd Street jumbotrons. Lilah Ramzi, Vogue, "Patricia Clarkson, Adrien Brody, and Debbie Harry Enjoy the Metropolitan Opera’s Opening Night Gala," 25 Sep. 2018 The video that sparked the controversy went virile after Faith's brother posted it on Facebook. Kevin Mcgill, Fox News, "Archdiocese says school's hair extension policy rescinded," 27 Aug. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for virile

Middle French or Latin; Middle French viril, from Latin virilis, from vir man, male; akin to Old English & Old High German wer man, Sanskrit vīra

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Statistics for virile

Last Updated

14 Sep 2019

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Time Traveler for virile

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

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More Definitions for virile



English Language Learners Definition of virile

: having or suggesting qualities (such as strength and sexual energy) that are associated with men and that are usually considered attractive in men


vir·​ile | \ ˈvir-əl How to pronounce virile (audio) , ˈvir-ˌīl\

Kids Definition of virile

: having qualities generally associated with men


vir·​ile | \ ˈvir-əl, ˈvi(ə)r-ˌīl, British also ˈvī(ə)r-ˌīl\

Medical Definition of virile

1 : having the nature, properties, or qualities of an adult male specifically : capable of functioning as a male in copulation
2 : characteristic of or associated with men : masculine

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More from Merriam-Webster on virile

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with virile

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for virile

Spanish Central: Translation of virile

Nglish: Translation of virile for Spanish Speakers

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