Definition of virtue
1a : conformity to a standard of right : moralityb : 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
virtuelessplay \ˈvər-(ˌ)chü-ləs\ adjective
by virtue ofor
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
Recent Examples of virtue from the Web
Her virtues are not tied entirely or even primarily to youth.
Goalie Corey Crawford, by virtue of the position, directly dictated more outcomes and drove more discussions on sports-talk radio.
Khimki placed third in the regular-season Russian standings, made the quarterfinals in the EuroCup and qualified for next season's Euroleague, Europe's premier club competition, by virtue of the runner-up finish in the playoffs.
In some abstract way, (the 1985 Bears) are still the paragons of football virtue in this town.
These virtues can help not only Catholics and Christians, but all people of goodwill who seek unity.
After hearing Crosby discuss the virtues of brining, I was sold on the notion.
By virtue of having more shares on the market, Amazon.com is well over four times the size of Priceline, NVR and Seaboard combined.
Earnest talk of virtue is uncommon in American politics.
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.
VIRTUE Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of virtue for English Language Learners
: morally good behavior or character
: a good and moral quality
: the good result that comes from something
VIRTUE Defined for Kids
Definition of virtue for Students
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.
History for virtue
From the Latin word vir, meaning “man,” the Romans formed the word virtus to describe such so-called “manly” qualities as firmness of purpose and courage. Gradually this word was used for any good qualities in males or females. The English word virtue came by way of French from Latin virtus.
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up virtue? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).