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

Users can pay extra to travel alone, with amenities like active noise-cancellation and virtual-reality headsets. Popular Mechanics Editors, Popular Mechanics, "The World of 2045," 14 Oct. 2018 At Oculus, the virtual-reality arm of Facebook, a group of women from both the software and hardware sides spent more than a year working to build a new headset that appeals to both genders. Alyson Krueger, Marie Claire, "Can Women Make Virtual Reality Mainstream?," 30 July 2018 Is Changing the Mediascape Long considered a pioneer of virtual and augmented reality, de la Peña unveils her latest breakthrough By Ryan Bradley, Photography by Gregory Harris Read it here. WSJ, "See All the 2018 WSJ. Magazine Innovators," 7 Nov. 2018 Apple appears to be seeking a balance, a way to blend the virtual and the real by expanding what its stores are all about and connecting those stores to a larger American mythology of public space. Andrew Zaleski, Curbed, "Can Apple stores be public spaces?," 3 Oct. 2018 Reaching out a hand to feel those boxy barriers, the physical and virtual versions were only off by an inch or so. Kyle Orland, Ars Technica, "Hands-on: Oculus Quest is an intriguing new middle ground for VR," 27 Sep. 2018 With just their torsos, the test subjects were taking their drones through both virtual and real world obstacle courses. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "For Flying Drones, Your Torso Might Be the Ultimate Joystick," 17 July 2018 True masters remember Spielberg’s lesson and skillfully combine the virtual and real worlds. Adam Bargteil, Smithsonian, "How ‘Jurassic Park’ Made History 25 Years Ago, Propelling Computer-Generated Animation Forward," 9 June 2018 The company offers flexible work hours, virtual and telecommute options. azcentral, "Top Companies to Work for in Arizona 2018-Large Companies," 7 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

3 Dec 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

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