vir·​tu·​al | \ ˈvər-chə-wəl How to pronounce virtual (audio) , -chəl; ˈvərch-wəl\

Definition of virtual

1 : being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted a virtual dictator
2 : being on or simulated on a computer or computer network print or virtual books a virtual keyboard : such as
a : occurring or existing primarily online virtual shopping
b : of, relating to, or existing within a virtual reality a virtual tour
3 : of, relating to, or using virtual memory
4 : of, relating to, or being a hypothetical particle whose existence is inferred from indirect evidence virtual photons — compare real sense 3

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Examples of virtual in a Sentence

The Web site provides a virtual tour of the stadium.

Recent Examples on the Web

Keep scrolling to see the latest and greatest K-beauty products from brands like Belif, Lapcos, and more, hitting real and virtual shelves in May. Allure, "The Best New K-Beauty Skin-Care Launches Coming in May," 4 May 2019 Marqeta’s technology allows tech startups like Instacart Inc. and DoorDash Inc. to issue physical and virtual credit and debit cards for employees and contractors to use to place orders at different merchants. Peter Rudegeair, WSJ, "Startup Marqeta Rides Investor Enthusiasm for Payments," 21 Mar. 2019 To bridge the gap between virtual and physical retail operations, behind-the-scenes organizational shifts have occurred. Courtney Coffman, The Atlantic, "Shops Aren’t for Shopping Anymore," 19 June 2018 Besides the intriguing Windows Sandbox virtual testbed, little is new: there are some smarter troubleshooters and Windows Update logic that work behind the scenes, the separation of Cortana and Windows search, and more. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft will ship the Windows 10 May 2019 Update in late May, giving you power over updates," 4 Apr. 2019 That has gotten in the way of delivering on the crypto industry’s longstanding promise of using virtual currencies to send money quickly, cheaply and safely. Tomio Geron, WSJ, "Startup Celo Aims to Make Crypto Accessible to Mainstream Mobile Users," 2 Apr. 2019 Keep scrolling to see the latest and greatest K-beauty products — from brands like Laneige, Tonymoly, and more — hitting real and virtual shelves in April. Allure, "The Best New K-Beauty Makeup and Skin-Care Launches Coming in April," 31 Mar. 2019 There are also virtual babies that are used for teaching. Annabelle Spranklen, Town & Country, "Here's What It Takes to Become a Nanny for the British Royal Family," 9 Mar. 2019 If the virtual doctor suspects anything that requires immediate treatment, like a heart attack, or a chronic health ailment such as diabetes, you may be redirected to the ER or your regular doctor anyway. Barbara Brody, Woman's Day, "Here's Everything You Need to Know About Telemedicine," 23 Aug. 2018

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for virtual

Middle English, efficacious, potential, from Medieval Latin virtualis, from Latin virtus strength, virtue

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Statistics for virtual

Last Updated

7 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for virtual

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

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More Definitions for virtual



English Language Learners Definition of virtual

: very close to being something without actually being it
: existing or occurring on computers or on the Internet


vir·​tu·​al | \ ˈvər-chə-wəl How to pronounce virtual (audio) \

Kids Definition of virtual

: being in effect but not in fact or name : close to but not quite something Rain is a virtual certainty today.

Other Words from virtual

virtually adverb This animal is rare and has virtually disappeared in the wild.

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More from Merriam-Webster on virtual

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for virtual

Spanish Central: Translation of virtual

Nglish: Translation of virtual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of virtual for Arabic Speakers

Comments on virtual

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


to speak slightingly about or to degrade

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