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

All three run within a virtual machine within Windows, just like Windows Sandbox. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "Microsoft's rumored dual-display Surface could emulate Android apps, which isn't a bad idea," 24 June 2019 Keep scrolling to see the latest and greatest K-beauty products from brands like Kaja, Innisfree, and more, hitting real and virtual shelves in June. Allure, "The Best New K-Beauty Skin-Care and Makeup Launches Coming in June," 2 June 2019 Spend enough time with an avatar that looks like us, and the lines between our real and virtual identities begin to blur. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "Augmented reality changes how people interact and communicate, study finds," 29 May 2019 This combination of physical and virtual is what sets the VR experiences of companies like The Void and Dreamscape Immersive apart. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The Void’s Ralph Breaks VR puts players inside a giant interactive Disney movie," 21 Nov. 2018 Surprisingly, though, there remains a relative dearth of academic studies comparing outcomes from real and virtual medical visits. Clifton Leaf, Fortune, "Why Hasn’t Telemedicine Taken Off? Hey, Blame This Guy.," 3 July 2018 Candidates for the guardian program have to pass background and psychological checks before an intensive six-week course that includes firearms training, precision shooting, and both virtual and live active shooter scenarios. CBS News, "Meet some of the everyday people training to take down school shooters," 13 June 2018 Shoppers can place orders online, subscribe to receive regular shipments or click an item-specific button — real or virtual — to automatically place an order. Lauren Zumbach,, "As pickup and delivery options proliferate in Chicago, retailers hope to add convenience, avoid confusion," 7 June 2018 Facebook recently announced the new open source platform, which allows computer scientists to train artificial intelligence agents in virtual rooms, no bumbling around a couch or bumping into a wall required. Liz Stinson, Curbed, "Facebook is teaching AI how to best navigate your home," 18 June 2019

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

16 Jul 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).


food or victuals

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