adjective vir·tu·ous \ˈvər-chə-wəs, ˈvərch-wəs\

Definition of virtuous

  1. 1a :  having or exhibiting virtueb :  morally excellent :  righteous a virtuous decision

  2. 2 :  chaste

  3. 3 :  potent, efficacious





Examples of virtuous in a sentence

  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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

  5. She felt that she had made a virtuous decision by donating the money to charity.

  6. virtuous behavior is its own reward

Origin and Etymology of virtuous

see virtue

First Known Use: 14th century

Synonym Discussion of 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

VIRTUOUS Defined for English Language Learners


adjective vir·tu·ous \ˈvər-chə-wəs, ˈvərch-wəs\

Definition of virtuous for English Language Learners

  • : morally good : having or showing virtue

VIRTUOUS Defined for Kids


adjective vir·tu·ous \ˈvər-chə-wəs\

Definition of virtuous for Students

  1. :  morally good :  having or showing virtue


adverb act virtuously

Seen and Heard

What made you want to look up virtuous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


to cast off or become cast off

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