Definition of goodness in US English:



  • 1The quality of being morally good or virtuous.

    ‘a belief in the basic goodness of mankind’
    • ‘The government said that it was doing this ‘out of the goodness of its heart’.’
    • ‘Your goodness of heart brings you peace inside.’
    • ‘Basic goodness transcends the concepts of good and bad.’
    • ‘Does anyone seriously think, for a moment, that Henry intends, from the goodness of his heart, to work hard to repay the ill-gotten gains.’
    • ‘This book is a thousand times worse, force-feeding us a tale not only of the author's goodness, but the goodness of his long line of ancestors.’
    • ‘While often being disheartened by the mistakes of our government, it is my sincere hope that its decisions in the upcoming days are wise and reflect the goodness of this nation.’
    • ‘But along with my innocent childhood belief in the resurrection of rock music and the essential goodness of mankind, this myth was shattered too.’
    • ‘Meditation is a process of lightening up, of trusting the basic goodness of what we have and who we are, and of realizing that any wisdom that exists, exists in what we already have.’
    • ‘Life on the idyllic left coast has caused her to believe in the truth of honesty, the goodness in her fellow man, and doing good deeds.’
    • ‘Hope draws its power from a deep trust in higher being and the basic goodness of human nature’
    • ‘What matters is the goodness and virtue of the individual.’
    • ‘I fed his curiosity, for it allowed me to praise the goodness and virtues of my people.’
    • ‘Wisdom requires that we work with the inner self, in order to act in accordance with the basic goodness we all have.’
    • ‘Don't do it out of the goodness of your heart, if you don't want to.’
    • ‘You think as you are watching it, that everything is quite politically correct, that sweet Vera is doing it all out of the goodness of her own heart, but watch closer.’
    • ‘But they're after us - they hate us for our goodness and our purity, they cannot abide the light we bring unto the world.’
    • ‘He went on to talk about one of the strengths of America being its tolerance for dissent, and his enormous respect for and faith in the goodness and fairness of the American people.’
    • ‘Out of the goodness of my heart I decided to loan him some of the CD-ROMs I've burned lately, so he can have a search through them and see what tunes he likes.’
    • ‘It teaches the interconnectedness of all things and the basic goodness of human nature.’
    • ‘All the world should, and must, gather together in spirit and ensure that in the end only the goodness of mankind will prevail, as we venture into forever together.’
    virtue, virtuousness, good, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness, upstandingness, integrity, principle, dignity, rectitude, rightness
    kindness, kindliness, kind-heartedness, warm-heartedness, tender-heartedness, humaneness, humanity, mildness, benevolence, benignity, tenderness, warmth, motherliness, fatherliness, affection, lovingness, love, goodwill
    View synonyms
  • 2The beneficial or nourishing element of food.

    • ‘Some of them even went so far as to ingest tape worms to avoid their bodies absorbing the goodness from food and so remaining thin (some people today still do this).’
    • ‘What was once our sustenance has become carcinogenic and devoid of goodness and nourishment.’
    • ‘At least, not now, with the goodness and warmth of the food spreading within him.’
    • ‘Very basic flavouring should underline the goodness of the piece of meat and fish or whatever.’
    • ‘I lifted my beer bottle to my face and drank the frothy goodness, sipping it slowly, savoring the bitter crisp taste.’
    • ‘It's loaded with fibre, has practically no calories, and fills you full of rich, vitamin-y goodness every time you take a bite.’
    • ‘The food nourishes, provides nutrients and goodness, yet the left-overs are generally uniform and of a recurring theme.’
    nutritional value, nutrition, nutrients, wholesomeness, nourishment
    View synonyms


  • (as a substitution for “God”) expressing surprise, anger, etc.

    ‘goodness knows why she didn't go herself’
    ‘my goodness, you gave me quite a fright!’
    • ‘I was just about to talk about Kate Hudson, but, goodness, we have a star of our own over here.’
    • ‘When they tell me about the son of the house, however, keeping up the impressed noises can be rather an effort - goodness, a lifeguard at the swimming pool!’
    • ‘But they don't care about anything - goodness, I could tell you stories!’
    • ‘I went and looked down it and thought ‘Oh my goodness!’’
    • ‘But they - goodness, I nearly said ‘we’ - will just have to lump it.’
    • ‘He had just come into the cafe, and oh my goodness!’
    • ‘Ben Pimlott (who calls her Alice) records that the young princess once said ‘My goodness!’’
    • ‘In my own half-asleep state, I heard her go through to Alex's room, and then there was an exclamation of ‘Oh my goodness!’’
    • ‘It must be in 1997 - goodness, has the newsletter been going that long?’


  • goodness of fit

    • The extent to which observed data match the values expected by theory.

      • ‘We used a chi-square test of goodness of fit to test the null hypothesis that usage occurs in proportion to availability, considering all habitats simultaneously.’
      • ‘The independent variable, the aggregate environmental index, E, did not have any statistical significance and did not improve the goodness of fit of the models to the data.’
      • ‘In addition, we tested goodness of fit of the observed frequency spectrum to that expected under the neutrality and panmixis with constant population size.’
      • ‘The statistics of the headway distribution and the goodness of fit between the observed and detected distributions are shown in Table 2.’
      • ‘On the basis of the goodness of fit between models and observations, a history of stationary population size can be confidently rejected for all three sets of samples.’
  • have the goodness to do something

    • Used in exaggeratedly polite requests.

      ‘have the goodness to look at me when I'm speaking to you’
      • ‘I wish to speak to Dominick alone, so please have the goodness to go.’
      • ‘Might I beg that you would have the goodness to sit down upon one of those boxes, and not to interfere?’
  • out of the goodness of one's heart

    • Motivated by kindness and generosity rather than the hope of personal gain.

      ‘don't expect me to believe you are helping me out of the goodness of your heart’
      ‘people give to charity out of the goodness of their heart’


Old English gōdnes (see good, -ness).