vir·​tu·​al | \ ˈvər-chə-wəl , -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

The company also brought back the coveted skull trooper skin and created a community frenzy, showing how lucrative its strategy of artificial scarcity is when applied to limited-time virtual goods. Andrew Webster, The Verge, "The year in Fortnite," 18 Dec. 2018 Play, pause, and skip controls grew to capabilities that allowed you to take calls, access virtual assistants, and (in some models) listen to media while still being aware of your surroundings due to an open-ear design. Cassie Shortsleeve, Popular Mechanics, "How 5 Everyday Products Have Changed Through the Ages," 10 Dec. 2018 The virtual currency bitcoin continues surging to new highs as a frenzy of investors get in on the action. Paul Vigna, WSJ, "‘Crypto Tourists’ Flee as Bitcoin Slump Drags On," 12 Sep. 2018 It was originally developed as an accounting method for the virtual currency bitcoin. Kathleen Megan,, "UConn Trustees Approve Sale Of West Hartford Campus to Financial Tech Company," 6 July 2018 Now, the game is taking the challenge of virtual farming to the next level with a competitive e-sports league. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "There's Real Money in Virtual Farming," 23 Jan. 2019 Marie Claire's virtual community of book lovers who may not have the time to attend a book club IRL. Rachel Epstein, Marie Claire, "Why Michelle Obama's 'Becoming' Is Required Reading," 1 Jan. 2019 Fans got to witness some of the love and humor Louis-Dreyfus received in virtual form as well, including a truly hilarious video that some more of her Veep co-stars made to psych her up for round three. Carolyn L. Todd, SELF, "Julia Louis-Dreyfus Was 'To-My-Bones Terrified' After Her Breast Cancer Diagnosis," 12 Dec. 2018 Andrew Tull, media relations officer for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, says both Reagan National (DCA) and Dulles International (IAD) airports have a virtual playbook of options for managing birds. Cynthia Drescher, Condé Nast Traveler, "How Airports Keep Birds Away," 5 Nov. 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

12 Feb 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 \

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

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 deny responsibility for

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