vir·tue | \ˈvər-(ˌ)chü \

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

Keep scrolling for more

Other Words from virtue

virtueless \ˈvər-(ˌ)chü-ləs \ 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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

However, Emery did also acknowledge that the 4-4-2 formation has its virtues., "Arsenal Manager Unai Emery Has Worrying News for Gunners Strikers in Revealing Interview," 9 July 2018 That tour came to Belk Theater Tuesday in the PNC Broadway Lights season, giving the state where the show is set a chance to assess its virtues. Lawrence Toppman, charlotteobserver, "‘Bright Star,’ a musical tale of NC mountain life, glows steadily and endearingly," 27 June 2018 Advertising for the Stone straw describes its virtues and emphasizes the faults of the natural straw. Alexis C. Madrigal, The Atlantic, "Disposable America," 21 June 2018 But New York City, for all its innumerable virtues, is not blessed with the enormous grocery stores that are such a fixture of so many of America's sprawling towns and cities. Ars Staff, Ars Technica, "How to review your life’s Amazon buying history—and what we learned from our own," 28 May 2018 The new Broadway revival, directed by George C. Wolfe and starring a revelatory Denzel Washington as Hickey, a former drunk turned fanatical crusader, rises to meet the challenges of a play whose flaws are as conspicuous as its virtues. Charles Mcnulty,, "A revelatory Denzel Washington in 'The Iceman Cometh'," 10 May 2018 Charlotte and Bernard manage to ensnare the group's leader, and Bernard plugs into the host's arm to reprogram him, jacking up his virtue and compassion. Sandra Upson, WIRED, "Westworld Recap, Season 2 Episode 3: Robot, Human, and Everything in Between," 7 May 2018 And firms seeking to attract the best employees, especially millennials, feel the need to signal their political virtue along with their fiscal viability. Adam Winkler, The New Republic, "Why big business is suddenly into liberal politics," 30 Apr. 2018 After all, Gemini darling, playfulness is one of your core virtues. Aliza Kelly Faragher, Allure, "What May's Gemini Horoscope Means for You," 26 Apr. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about virtue

Statistics for virtue

Last Updated

15 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for virtue

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

See more words from the same century

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for virtue



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 \

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.

Keep scrolling for more

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).


lying above or upon

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Roman Mythology Quiz

  • the-triumph-of-venus-by-alessandro-magnasco
  • Boreal comes from the name of the ancient Greek god of which wind?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.


Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!