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 This year, as attendance builds once more, the meet is making a virtue out of necessity, taking a new direction. John Hopewell, Variety, 13 Sep. 2021 Awash in woke assumptions about the West, critics don’t have much to say about some of the key elements of the story, such as virtue, sacrifice, and faith. Joseph Loconte, National Review, 12 Sep. 2021 Yet Sebastian, the new amour, is no paragon of virtue or charm. Richard Brod, The New Yorker, 10 Sep. 2021 Museums playing only the short game—mounting a show or two with Black artists—risk doing more harm than good by coming across as insincere and virtue-signaling. Melissa Smith, Robb Report, 8 Sep. 2021 Patience has become a virtue for Ohio State’s recruiting and Saturday’s game vs. Oregon could be the difference-maker in landing their next commit. Kayla Harvey, cleveland, 8 Sep. 2021 Each of the 12 chapters is organized around a broad theme — virtue, resistance, knowledge, identity, etc. — that a collection of loosely related examples of timekeeping devices is supposed to illuminate. Washington Post, 3 Sep. 2021 The artist parried with mostly good humor, neither stooping to performative virtue nor being overly concerned with who might take offense. Sergio Burstein, Los Angeles Times, 1 Sep. 2021 Our ancestors have used timepieces to make war, seek peace, advance knowledge and enforce virtue. Michael O’donnell, WSJ, 13 Aug. 2021

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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Dictionary Entries Near virtue

virtual reality



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Last Updated

19 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Virtue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 Sep. 2021.

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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 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.

More from Merriam-Webster on virtue

Nglish: Translation of virtue for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of virtue for Arabic Speakers Encyclopedia article about virtue


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