vir·​tue ˈvər-(ˌ)chü How to pronounce virtue (audio)
: conformity to a standard of right : morality
: a particular moral excellence
: a beneficial quality or power of a thing
: manly strength or courage : valor
: a commendable quality or trait : merit
: a capacity to act : potency
: chastity especially in a woman
virtues plural : an order of angels see celestial hierarchy
virtueless adjective
by virtue of or in virtue of
: through the force of : by authority of

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 And unlike in MacArthur’s time, Taiwan today is economically crucial to the rest of the world, by virtue of its role as the primary producer of advanced microchips. Andrew S. Erickson, Foreign Affairs, 16 Feb. 2024 By virtue of Sunday night’s 25-22 overtime win in Super Bowl LVIII, the Chiefs became the first franchise to back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 New England Patriots. Cam Inman, The Mercury News, 14 Feb. 2024 The idea is to not simply have a woman play the leading role in a Western — but to have her lead the way in our story by virtue of her fiercely uncompromising nature. Alex Ritman, Variety, 12 Feb. 2024 Daniela Lopez of Sylmar was the upper weights MVP by virtue of her victory over Birmingham’s Bailey Gutierrez at 140. Steve Galluzzo, Los Angeles Times, 11 Feb. 2024 The two parties unite behind the bugle cry that the United States is the indispensable nation uniquely endowed with angelic DNA tasked with cramming political virtue down the throats of adversaries by force and violence — i.e., a warfare state. Armstrong Williams, Baltimore Sun, 2 Feb. 2024 The species had the virtue of being slightly nicer (less likely to bite handlers) and smaller (saving money on drugs in preclinical studies) than the rhesus macaque. Erika Fry, Fortune, 27 Jan. 2024 Apparently, tipping, imported to the United States from Europe in the mid 1800s, was deemed corrosive to work ethic, an assault on republican virtue, and beneath the dignity of the American worker. David Harsanyi, National Review, 25 Jan. 2024 One of them is that there is confidential information that just by virtue of being a part of a show that castmembers or crewmembers are privy to. Jackie Strause, The Hollywood Reporter, 30 Jan. 2024 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'virtue.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


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

First Known Use

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

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

Dictionary Entries Near virtue

Cite this Entry

“Virtue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Mar. 2024.

Kids Definition


vir·​tue ˈvər-chü How to pronounce virtue (audio)
: conduct that agrees with what is morally right
: a particular moral quality
justice and charity are virtues
: a desirable quality : merit
the virtues of country life

Middle English vertu, virtu "behavior that fits with what is right or moral," from early French virtu (same meaning), from Latin virtus "strength, virtue, manly quality," from vir "man, male" — related to virile

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