Definition of virtue in English:


Pronunciation: /ˈvəːtʃuː//ˈvəːtjuː/


  • 1[mass noun] Behaviour showing high moral standards.

    ‘paragons of virtue’
    • ‘Some hold that what makes any person fundamentally deserving of good or bad fortune is her level of virtue or moral merit.’
    • ‘An older sister, Sophie, had died aged six months but throughout Aldiss's childhood she was held up as a paragon of childlike virtue, a moralistic ghost hovering over him.’
    • ‘The human expression of this perfection is virtue, moral and intellectual.’
    • ‘They established personal standards of piety and virtue that no other group of people since then can match.’
    • ‘It is by goodness and piety that man reaches perfect happiness: virtue is its own reward.’
    • ‘The distinction between freedom and voluntariness is explicit in the discussion of moral virtue by Spinoza, Gilson, and Murdoch.’
    • ‘And to him a higher standard of virtue would always be applied.’
    • ‘Imagine someone voting for Feingold and then not living up to a Feingoldesque standard of virtue?’
    • ‘In effect you're still rewarding vice, and punishing virtue.’
    • ‘Well, read on and decide for yourselves just what standards of journalistic virtue these folks aspire to.’
    • ‘For Kant, divine goodness is known as a postulate of pure practical reason: God must be there to reward virtue and punish evil.’
    • ‘He notes that vice is punished and virtue rewarded in most of the director's many babelicious films.’
    • ‘The man was one of great virtue, and his morals were admired by everyone.’
    • ‘In the Confucian view, the elder brother is meant to enable his younger brothers and sisters to cultivate their virtue by providing a moral example for them.’
    • ‘The primary moral virtue associated with beauty is holiness.’
    • ‘It is very difficult to discuss ethical or morals questions such as virtue in a moderate or reasonable way.’
    • ‘I don't want to demand either that every story show virtue rewarded, or that every story show vice triumphant in our bad world.’
    • ‘It forces heroes and heroines to act out of character and rewards vice with virtue.’
    • ‘There is no vice and virtue, no moral framework to locate the individual within the cosmic infinity of the universe.’
    • ‘But he kept his religious views a secret, and thus spread good works instead of wasting valuable time and energy on a public performance of moral virtue.’
    goodness, virtuousness, righteousness, morality, ethicalness, uprightness, upstandingness, integrity, dignity, rectitude, honesty, honourableness, honourability, honour, incorruptibility, probity, propriety, decency, respectability, nobility, nobility of soul, nobility of spirit, nobleness, worthiness, worth, good, trustworthiness, meritoriousness, irreproachableness, blamelessness, purity, pureness, lack of corruption, merit
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    1. 1.1[count noun]A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person.
      ‘patience is a virtue’
      • ‘But I suspect humility is a virtue that we could value more - that and duty.’
      • ‘In the ancient world, courage, moderation, and justice were prime species of moral virtue.’
      • ‘Patience was a virtue that we'd have to start drawing upon heavily, but a question I had to ask myself is: why would anyone offer a lift to a complete stranger?’
      • ‘Suddenly those virtues of steadfastness, commitment and long service as embodied by the Queen appear to be fashionable again.’
      • ‘So when does Pollack and many, many other Americans realize something fundamental about Iraq: honesty is not a virtue.’
      • ‘Claiming that gay men may not value fidelity is not the same as claiming someone doesn't value a virtue such as courage or honor.’
      • ‘For virtue ethics, the problem concerns the question of which character traits are the virtues.’
      • ‘Patriotism is a virtue of which any man may well be proud.’
      • ‘It emphasizes that patience really is a virtue worth cultivating.’
      • ‘Kindness is an underrated virtue altogether in my humble opinion.’
      • ‘This is not a morality based on obedience as a primary virtue, but rather a moral law about how to govern ourselves recognising that we are social individuals.’
      • ‘I am at a loss as to know whether thrift is still regarded as a virtue, or whether patriotism has taken on new connotations.’
      • ‘Set in a unified fascistic nation of the future, this satirical sci-fi thriller sees the goodies styled as Nazis and rampant patriotism as a virtue.’
      • ‘The status of a character trait as a virtue need not be a fixed matter, but a matter complexly interrelated with the sort of society in which it appears.’
      • ‘Patience is a virtue and one that is supposed to bear rewards.’
      • ‘But ask him now if honesty is a virtue and he says absolutely.’
      • ‘I can't decide whether this is a personal failing or a virtue, or neither.’
      • ‘It's like being very honest about other people's failings, and being honest is a virtue, so I try very hard.’
      • ‘To be self-conscious in the most basic sense seems a virtue: to be self-aware.’
      • ‘But that wouldn't be our Phillip, honesty not being a virtue on which he places much value.’
      good point, good quality, strong point, strong suit, long suit, asset, forte, attribute, advantage, benefit, strength, talent
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    2. 1.2[count noun]A good or useful quality of a thing.
      ‘Mike was extolling the virtues of the car’
      [mass noun] ‘there's no virtue in suffering in silence’
      • ‘As I said then, it is a virtue of a court system that the court constantly checks its will against a proper view of its limits.’
      • ‘Great thinkers throughout history have extolled the virtues of doubt.’
      • ‘He was extolling the virtues of going to the gym every day, and how I ought do it, and he was so happy he was going to live to be 106.’
      • ‘In poetic words of dazzling imagery, the bards extolled the tribal virtues of honour, courage, generosity, fidelity and revenge.’
      • ‘On my first day of work, he extolled the virtues of the café, and interrogated me about my lunch when I returned.’
      • ‘But how many commentaries have you read that actually knowledgeably extol the virtues of this ancient culture?’
      • ‘I am sick of the amassed forces of TV punditry extolling the virtues of the Brazilian style of football.’
      • ‘It may seem wrong to extol the virtues of the English but with such a large Lions touring party, it is always likely to be skewed towards the biggest nation with strength in depth.’
      • ‘The priest was summoned to give Paddy a dressing down about some mischief he had been getting into and to extol the virtues and benefits of living a good life.’
      • ‘We also welcome Libby Purves to the pages of the magazine. Her first column extols the virtues of joining in - be it World Cup fervour or Jubilee joy.’
      • ‘That sparked the Herald writer to extol the virtues of the car.’
      • ‘Mr Derbyshire refers to Bolton street lights being powered by Welsh wind farms, and thereby extols their virtues.’
      • ‘Ibu Nurul, 25, the mother of a five-year-old boy, extols the virtues of the IUD.’
      • ‘He began his programme by extolling the virtues of Swindon, and then moved on to a self-written humorous cry about the misuse of the English language.’
      • ‘How could a man who so clearly extolled the virtues and simplicity of the continental structure in its early days seem so utterly clueless about it?’
      • ‘She is familiar on these shores as a daytime television regular where she extols the virtues of expat life under the Mediterranean sun to more than a million viewers a day.’
      • ‘Both Sashinka and a friend at work have recently extolled the virtues of a wheat- and dairy-free diet in terms of improved energy levels and weight loss.’
      • ‘However when asked to elaborate what the real issues were, he declined to comment, and instead extolled the virtues of his new buffalo.’
      • ‘The survey has been conducted in conjunction with the Daily Telegraph, which has been in the town taking pictures to extol Skipton's virtues.’
      • ‘For many years now my bargain-hungry brethren have been extolling the virtues of car boot sales.’
      merit, advantage, benefit, usefulness, efficacy, efficaciousness, power, potency, force, strength
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    3. 1.3archaic [mass noun]Virginity or chastity, especially of a woman.
  • 2(in traditional Christian angelology) the seventh-highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy.

    • ‘It is said that 2 virtues midwived for Eve as she gave birth to Cain.’


Middle English: from Old French vertu, from Latin virtus valour, merit, moral perfection, from vir man.