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

Examples of virtual in a Sentence

The Web site provides a virtual tour of the stadium.

Recent Examples on the Web

Cameras then track the customer’s shopping, making note of each item picked up and adding it to a virtual cart connected to the shopper’s Amazon account. Rachel Lerman, The Seattle Times, "Amazon will open second cashierless convenience store in downtown Seattle this year," 3 July 2018 But there’s a huge audience exploring things through downloads and YouTube, a separate world of virtual listening. Jeremy Eichler,, "Music from the shadows, being heard anew," 28 June 2018 Having competitors meet face-to-face and use the same equipment helps level the (virtual) playing field, bringing legitimacy to the industry. Leigh Kamping-carder, WSJ, "Professional Videogamers Get Their Own Stadiums," 20 June 2018 To assist in the development of both physical and virtual retail spaces, retailers commission designers and architects. Courtney Coffman, The Atlantic, "Shops Aren’t for Shopping Anymore," 19 June 2018 Those who aren't as enamored with Alexa may not be happy to stay in a room with a constantly listening virtual assistant. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Alexa for hotels lets guests order room service, control in-room smart devices [Updated]," 19 June 2018 Mexico’s fans, who had turned every game in Russia into a virtual home game for their team, were quiet for perhaps the first time this month. Andrew Keh, New York Times, "Brazil’s Joy Is Mexico’s Heartbreak in World Cup Knockout," 4 July 2018 The state has always kept close tabs on what is going on in its virtual space, and more recently has teamed up with the country’s online giants, notably Tencent and its main rival, Alibaba, to control that online world even more tightly. The Economist, "The ultimate walled gardenChina has the world’s most centralised internet system," 28 June 2018 Bannon has joined forces with Brock Pierce, a former child actor and tech entrepreneur with a broad reach in the virtual currency space. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Steve Bannon’s post-Breitbart project is bitcoin because of course it is," 14 June 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

8 Oct 2018

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

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