Definition of virtue in English:

Share this entry


Pronunciation: /ˈvəːtʃuː/
Pronunciation: /ˈvəːtjuː/


1 [mass noun] Behaviour showing high moral standards: paragons of virtue
More example sentences
  • He notes that vice is punished and virtue rewarded in most of the director's many babelicious films.
  • There is no vice and virtue, no moral framework to locate the individual within the cosmic infinity of the universe.
  • Some hold that what makes any person fundamentally deserving of good or bad fortune is her level of virtue or moral merit.
1.1 [count noun] A quality considered morally good or desirable in a person: patience is a virtue
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • For virtue ethics, the problem concerns the question of which character traits are the virtues.
  • It emphasizes that patience really is a virtue worth cultivating.
good point, good quality, strong point, strong suit, long suit, asset, forte, attribute, advantage, benefit, strength, talent
informal plus
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
More example sentences
  • That sparked the Herald writer to extol the virtues of the car.
  • For many years now my bargain-hungry brethren have been extolling the virtues of car boot sales.
  • 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.
merit, advantage, benefit, usefulness, efficacy, efficaciousness, power, potency, force, strength
1.3 [mass noun] archaic Virginity or chastity, especially of a woman.
2 (virtues) (In traditional Christian angelology) the seventh-highest order of the ninefold celestial hierarchy.
Example sentences
  • It is said that 2 virtues midwived for Eve as she gave birth to Cain.



by (or in) virtue of

Because or as a result of: they achieved pre-eminence by virtue of superior military strength in virtue of his position he was impartial
More example sentences
  • If they are killed, they are at any rate killed in virtue of what they are doing.
  • We felt kinda out of place here by virtue of not wearing polished shoes, smart pants and a designer shirt.
  • The 64 runs that took him to 103 came by virtue of 14 fours and a six and a six and two singles.
with the help of, with the aid of, with the assistance of

make a virtue of

Derive benefit or advantage from submitting to (an unwelcome obligation or unavoidable circumstance).
Example sentences
  • I know it's all just ‘a conspiracy of cartographers’ but why make a virtue of furiously stating the obvious?
  • I'm almost making a virtue of the fact I am a simple person, although at the same time I have a yacht and a convertible Mercedes.
  • ‘Therapy breeds mistrust, treating private life and relationships between people with suspicion, and making a virtue of estrangement’.



Example sentences
  • Unfortunate and virtueless people are unable to hear even the name of the Three Treasures, let alone take refuge in them.
  • The power of the heart, already grown virtueless and thin, distills poisonous clammy vapours which emerge from the head.
  • The architecture of Palladio is wholly virtueless and despicable.


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

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: vir¦tue

Share this entry

What do you find interesting about this word or phrase?

Comments that don't adhere to our Community Guidelines may be moderated or removed.