vir·​tu·​ous ˈvər-chə-wəs How to pronounce virtuous (audio)
: having or exhibiting virtue
: morally excellent : righteous
a virtuous decision
: chaste
virtuously adverb
virtuousness noun
Choose the Right Synonym for virtuous

moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous, noble mean conforming to a standard of what is right and good.

moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong.

the basic moral values of a community

ethical may suggest the involvement of more difficult or subtle questions of rightness, fairness, or equity.

committed to the highest ethical principles

virtuous implies moral excellence in character.

not a religious person, but virtuous nevertheless

righteous stresses guiltlessness or blamelessness and often suggests the sanctimonious.

wished to be righteous before God and the world

noble implies moral eminence and freedom from anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character.

had the noblest of reasons for seeking office

Examples of virtuous in a Sentence

In a kind of virtuous circle, the "second tier" schools got better as applications rose and they could become choosier in assembling a class—which in turn raised the quality of the whole experience on campus and made the school more attractive to both topflight professors and the next wave of applicants. Nancy Gibbs et al., Time, 21 Aug. 2006
In its quest to create ice cream as voluptuous as butter and as virtuous as broccoli, the ice cream industry has probed the depths of the Arctic Ocean, studied the intimate structures of algae and foisted numerous failures on the American public. Julia Moskin, New York Times, 26 July 2006
Children born into high-income households become part of a virtuous circle of success. Parents with university degrees tend to earn more, set higher educational goals for their children, and invest more time in the children's schooling than parents who have a high-school education or less. Laura D'Andrea Tyson, BusinessWeek, 7 July 2003
We redefined virtue as health. And considering the probable state of our souls, this was not a bad move. By relocating the seat of virtue from the soul to the pecs, the abs and the coronary arteries, we may not have become the most virtuous people on earth, but we surely became the most desperate for grace. We spend $5 billion a year on our health-club memberships, $2 billion on vitamins, nearly $1 billion on home exercise equipment, and $6 billion on sneakers to wear out on our treadmills and StairMasters. Barbara Ehrenreich, Utne Reader, May/June 1992
She felt that she had made a virtuous decision by donating the money to charity. virtuous behavior is its own reward
Recent Examples on the Web The revolutionary leaders thus committed themselves to behaving in a certain moral, virtuous and civilized manner. Gordon S. Wood, Washington Post, 2 July 2024 The modern take on Dangerous Liaisons set in an elite Manhattan prep school was something of a precursor to Gossip Girl, and found the star playing a virtuous teen who is pursued by bad boy Sebastian Valmont (future husband Ryan Phillippe). John Russell, Peoplemag, 21 June 2024 As new infrastructure comes online and public transit commuting times get faster, tolls could increase to encourage ridership and fund new improvements in a virtuous cycle. Ben Kallos, New York Daily News, 13 June 2024 Unhinged Studios The virtuous cycle of replayability and Steam recommendations As with Google’s search results, the algorithms behind Steam’s recommendation system are not known to those outside the company. Kevin Purdy, Ars Technica, 12 Apr. 2024 See all Example Sentences for virtuous 

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

Word History


see virtue

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

Time Traveler
The first known use of virtuous was in the 14th century

Dictionary Entries Near virtuous

Cite this Entry

“Virtuous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 13 Jul. 2024.

Kids Definition


vir·​tu·​ous ˈvərch-(ə-)wəs How to pronounce virtuous (audio)
: having or showing moral virtue
virtuously adverb
virtuousness noun

More from Merriam-Webster on virtuous

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