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 virtueless (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 The Great American Songbook has one definitive virtue: flexibility. Will Friedwald, WSJ, "The Staying Inside Guide: Infinitely Interpretable," 1 July 2020 Compassion Compassion is a core virtue of all the world’s major religions and a bedrock moral principle in professions like health care and social work. Mary Elizabeth Collins, The Conversation, "3 moral virtues necessary for an ethical pandemic response and reopening," 26 June 2020 People seemingly not preoccupied with keeping separate from each other were separated by pure virtue of limited attendance. Michael Mccleary, The Indianapolis Star, "Tommy Johnson earns No. 1 Funny Car qualifying spot, Tony Schumacher qualifies in NHRA return," 11 July 2020 The guys give good political humor, and offer a necessary late-night perspective purely by virtue of not being a white guy named Jimmy or a Daily Show alumnus. Darren Franich,, "Emmys: The time has come to nominate Desus & Mero," 9 July 2020 Every team is starting off from a point of contention just by virtue of the schedule and length of the season. John Shea,, "Outlook for Giants’ Gabe Kapler, Farhan Zaidi: We’re starting in a pennant race," 30 June 2020 Sisodia acknowledged that New Delhi had some inherent advantages by virtue of being a metropolitan city, but said the biggest challenge was to be able to deal with peaks in cases. Washington Post, "AP Interview: Delhi minister says city faces virus challenge," 28 June 2020 The result means Barcelona moved ahead of Real Madrid by a point atop the standings but Los Blancos have played one fewer game and hold the advantage if the teams finish tied on points by virtue of having a better head-to-head record. Ravi Ubha, CNN, "Barcelona's title hopes dim after a draw at Celta Vigo," 27 June 2020 The Brewers would have hosted the clash at Miller Park by virtue of a better intra-division record (the Cubs and Brewers were tied head-to-head through the First 60 last year). Jr Radcliffe, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "How would the Milwaukee Brewers have fared in past years with a 60-game schedule?," 24 June 2020

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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Statistics for virtue

Last Updated

1 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Virtue.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 8 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for virtue


How to pronounce virtue (audio)

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.

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