virtue signaling


variants or virtue signalling or less commonly virtue-signaling or virtue-signalling
: the act or practice of conspicuously displaying one's awareness of and attentiveness to political issues, matters of social and racial justice, etc., especially instead of taking effective action
And who benefits from displays of woke virtue signaling?Veronique de Rugy
[San Francisco Giants manager Gabe] Kapler has said he won't participate in the [national] anthem, as [an] act of protest over gun violence in the United States. … He'll be accused of virtue signaling, and of being self-serving.Sean Gregory
We are not leaders in the fight against global climate change. We are stooges in a mock show of virtue signalling.Rex Murphy
We are living in the age of virtue-signalling with glib soundbites from glibber politicians seeking to address fundamental and complex issues with 280 characters on Twitter.Nick Dalgarno
virtue signal noun
plural virtue signals
This narrative is fed by social media and endorsed by the usual clutch of celebrities, forever eager to radiate their virtue signals across the globe. John Kane-Berman
virtue signal verb, transitive + intransitive
or less commonly virtue-signal
virtue signaled also virtue signalled or virtue-signaled or virtue-signalled; virtue signaling also virtue signalling or virtue-signaling or virtue-signalling; virtue signals also virtue-signals
For now, we can only dream of a time—not too far off—when the wokest among us will virtue signal by broadcasting the fact that their yoga pants are made of mushrooms. Sarah Rose Sharp
These are the folk who like to play at rustic living and to virtue signal their support for the community by 'shopping locally'. James Delingpole

Examples of virtue signaling in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In this new season, for instance, Brooke’s arc revolves around her ambivalence about celebrity and the pressure of pandemic-era social-media virtue signaling. Phillip MacIak, The New Republic, 9 June 2023 Governing is not about building a brand or talking on social media and virtue signaling. Chuck Todd, NBC News, 15 May 2023 But virtue signaling isn’t enough to reach savvy audiences. Goldie Chan, Forbes, 22 Mar. 2023 Thirty-four percent agreed with that, but a larger proportion, 39 percent, applied that same criticism to Republicans (where presumably the complaint isn’t about virtue signaling but about pampering the rich). Timothy Noah, The New Republic, 23 Feb. 2023

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

Word History

First Known Use

2013, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of virtue signaling was in 2013

Dictionary Entries Near virtue signaling

Cite this Entry

“Virtue signaling.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Oct. 2023.

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