vir·​tue | \ ˈvər-(ˌ)chü How to pronounce virtue (audio) \

Definition of virtue

1a : conformity to a standard of right : morality
b : a particular moral excellence
2 : a beneficial quality or power of a thing
3 : manly strength or courage : valor
4 : a commendable quality or trait : merit
5 : a capacity to act : potency
6 : chastity especially in a woman
7 virtues plural : an order of angels — see celestial hierarchy
by virtue of or in virtue of
: through the force of : by authority of

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Other Words from virtue

virtueless \ ˈvər-​(ˌ)chü-​ləs How to pronounce virtueless (audio) \ adjective

Examples of virtue in a Sentence

He led me across the concrete floor, through a concrete warehouse, and to the concrete screening room, where he began to extol the virtue and beauty of his eleven-mile-long sewage interceptor. — Frederick Kaufman, Harper's, February 2008 Disinterestedness was the most common term the founders used as a synonym for the classical conception of virtue or self-sacrifice; it better conveyed the threats from interests that virtue seemed increasingly to face in the rapidly commercializing eighteenth century. — Gordon S. Wood, Revolutionary Characters, 2006 It was not only his title that made Poor Richard—and by extension [Benjamin] Franklin—an honorary Frenchman. He may well have devoted a great amount of ink to virtue and order, but he checked those concepts at the door of the beau monde; he made it clear that he was not too good for that world … — Stacy Schiff, A Great Improvisation, 2005 Nerviness is considered a virtue, a good machine, an energy that builds nations, businesses and dynasties. Handed down from generation to generation, like a caustic strand of DNA, it infects the unhappy, the unfortunate and the unlucky, and turns them into desperate strivers, prepared to do anything to realize their ridiculous ambitions. — David Byrne, The New Sins/Los Nuevos Pecados, 2001 Some rise by sin, and some by virtue fall … — William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure, 1605 the virtue of wool as a clothing material is that it can provide insulation from the cold even when wet a lady of honor and virtue
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Recent Examples on the Web Each company spans a different sector and, by virtue of that, comes with its own baggage. Ananya Bhattacharya, Quartz India, "Besides the proverbial torch, Google founders are passing a laundry list of troubles to Sundar Pichai," 4 Dec. 2019 The Seahawks own the tiebreaker with the 49ers by virtue of the win against the 49ers in Week 10. oregonlive, "Seattle Seahawks hang on -barely - to defeat the Minnesota Vikings: Live updates recap, score, stats and more (Monday Night Football)," 2 Dec. 2019 With soccer being the national sport in many African countries, the Premier League (which was founded in 1992) and its clubs soon became institutions of sorts among fans by virtue of being readily available on terrestrial television in the 1990s. Yomi Kazeem, Quartz Africa, "African brands spend over $40 million a year to advertise in the world’s richest soccer league," 29 Nov. 2019 For the most part, the anti-discrimination bill is a useful bit of virtue-signalling by the political right. The Economist, "Australia’s government wants to allow religious people to discriminate," 2 Nov. 2019 But critics argue this amounts to little more than virtue-signaling when set against Trump’s anti-refugee agenda. Ishaan Tharoor, Washington Post, "A death in Iraq belies Trump’s religious freedom agenda," 9 Aug. 2019 This explains the rampant virtue-signaling in their movement. Jon Caldara, The Denver Post, "Caldara: Xcel Energy should consider carbon capture to save the planet and our pocketbooks," 12 July 2019 For progressives, scrapping that law has become a litmus test, a virtue signal on immigration in an era of family separations and threats of mass round-ups and deportation. Todd J. Gillman, Dallas News, "Julian Castro would repeal illegal entry as a crime. Is that an 'open borders' policy?," 6 July 2019 Behind the shtick, Gorsuch is performing a conservative virtue signal. Simon Van Zuylen-wood, Daily Intelligencer, "How Neil Gorsuch Became the Second-Most-Polarizing Man in Washington," 28 May 2018

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

13th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for virtue

Middle English vertu, virtu, from Anglo-French, from Latin virtut-, virtus strength, manliness, virtue, from vir man — more at virile

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Time Traveler for virtue

Time Traveler

The first known use of virtue was in the 13th century

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Statistics for virtue

Last Updated

10 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Virtue.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 10 December 2019.

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More Definitions for virtue


How to pronounce virtue (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of virtue

: morally good behavior or character
: a good and moral quality
: the good result that comes from something


vir·​tue | \ ˈvər-chü How to pronounce virtue (audio) \

Kids Definition of virtue

1 : morally good behavior or character We were urged to lead lives of virtue.
2 : a good, moral, or desirable quality Patience is a virtue.
3 : the good result that comes from something I learned the virtue of hard work.
by virtue of
: because of : through the force of She succeeded by virtue of persistence.

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Comments on virtue

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


to state or do over again or repeatedly

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