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 virtue (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 To some degree, the memoir pulls off these linguistic metamorphoses by virtue of its overarching themes of earthquakes and jazz, suggesting that these nonlinear, improvisational models are the only way to tell her story. Washington Post, "For a multiracial writer, a life marked by earthquakes and other upheavals," 15 Jan. 2021 With the Senate divided 50 to 50 and Democrats in charge only by virtue of the tiebreaking power of the vice president, the filibuster also looms large. New York Times, "With Georgia Senate Wins, Democrats Solidify Power in Washington," 7 Jan. 2021 Of those eight, only two are definitely out by virtue of the 10-day minimum isolation period: Bitonio and Hodge. cleveland, "Why Kevin Stefanski can’t help coach virtually vs. the Steelers, and other Browns COVID-19 things you need to know," 5 Jan. 2021 Angry rhetoric, bad tweets, hurt feelings and never-ending virtue signaling might not destroy the republic. John Kass • Chicago Tribune, Star Tribune, "Everybody hates Barr — he's doing his job," 9 Dec. 2020 There are also instances in which virtue-signaling may have merit. Eric Grover, National Review, "The Tsunami of Virtue-Signaling in Financial Services," 8 Dec. 2020 The prize ceremony in my grandmother’s second bedroom seemed, by virtue of its secrecy, an extension of the intense relation the poem had created: an extension, not a violation. Louise Glück, The New York Review of Books, "The Poet and the Reader: Nobel Lecture 2020," 5 Jan. 2021 Vequist gets the nod over Dayoutoftheoffice by virtue of winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies. John Cherwa, Los Angeles Times, "Horse racing newsletter: Happy birthday to all the horses," 1 Jan. 2021 Tennessee holds the division lead over Indianapolis by virtue of its superior division record. Daniel Oyefusi,, "Where do the Ravens stand in the AFC playoff race after their win over the Giants?," 28 Dec. 2020

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

22 Jan 2021

Cite this Entry

“Virtue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 23 Jan. 2021.

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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

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