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a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
b. An example or kind of moral excellence: the virtue of patience.
2. Archaic Chastity, especially in a woman.
3. A particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial quality; advantage: a plan with the virtue of being practical.
4. Effective force or power: believed in the virtue of prayer.
5. virtues Christianity The fifth of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology.
6. Obsolete Manly courage; valor.
by/in virtue of
On the grounds or basis of; by reason of: well-off by virtue of a large inheritance.

[Middle English vertu, from Old French, from Latin virtūs, manliness, excellence, goodness, from vir, man; see wī-ro- in Indo-European roots.]
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


(ˈvɜːtjuː; -tʃuː)
1. the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness
2. a particular moral excellence: the virtue of tolerance.
3. (Theology) any of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) or theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity)
4. any admirable quality, feature, or trait
5. chastity, esp in women
6. archaic an effective, active, or inherent power or force
7. by virtue of in virtue of on account of or by reason of
8. make a virtue of necessity to acquiesce in doing something unpleasant with a show of grace because one must do it in any case
[C13: vertu, from Old French, from Latin virtūs manliness, courage, from vir man]
ˈvirtueless adj
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈvɜr tʃu)

1. conformity of one's life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; moral excellence; rectitude.
2. a particular moral excellence.
3. chastity; virginity: to lose one's virtue.
4. a good or admirable quality or property.
5. effective force; power or potency.
6. virtues, an order of angels. Compare angel (def. 1).
7. manly excellence; valor.
1. by or in virtue of, by reason of; because of.
2. make a virtue of necessity, to make the best of a difficult or unsatisfactory situation.
[1175–1225; vertu < Old French < Latin virtūtem, acc. of virtūs desirable male qualities, worth, virtue =vir man (seen virile) + -tūs abstract n. suffix]
syn: See goodness.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.




  1. Admirable as the rabbit that lets a tortoise win the race —Mike Sommer
  2. Chaste as ice —William Shakespeare
  3. Chastity consists, like an onion, of a series of coats —Nathaniel Hawthorne
  4. Good as a mother —Vicki Baum
  5. Hanging on to his virtue like a thief to his loot —Paige Mitchell
  6. Like gentle streams beneath our feet innocence and virtue meet —William Blake

    See Also: INNOCENCE

  7. Many individuals have, like uncut diamonds, shining qualities beneath a rough exterior —Juvenal
  8. Piety is like garlic. A little goes a long way —Rita Mae Brown
  9. Rare virtues are like rare plants or animals, things that have not been able to hold their own in the world —Samuel Butler

    Butler’s comparison continues as follows: “A virtue to be serviceable must, like gold, be alloyed with some commoner but more durable metal.”

  10. Rich in virtue, like an infant —Lao Tzu
  11. True merit, like a river, the deeper it is, the less noise it makes —Lord Halifax
  12. Virginal as Eve before she knew Adam —Anon
  13. Virgins are bores … like people with overpriced houses —Thomas McGuane
  14. Virtue and learning, like gold, have their intrinsic value; but if they are not polished, they certainly lose a great deal of their luster; and even polished brass will pass upon more people than rough gold —Lord Chesterfield

    See Also: EDUCATION

  15. Virtue is a kind of health, beauty and good habit of the soul —Plato
  16. A virtue is like a city set upon a hill, it cannot be hid —Robert Hichens
  17. Virtue is like an enemy avoided —Dante Alighieri
  18. Virtue is like a polar star, which keeps its place, and all stars turn towards it —Confucius
  19. Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set —Francis Bacon
  20. Virtue is like health: the harmony of the whole man —Thomas Carlyle
  21. Virtue is like precious odors —most fragrant when they are incensed or crushed —Francis Bacon
  22. Virtue lies like the gold in quartz; there is not very much of it and much pain has to be spent on the extracting of it —Jerome K. Jerome
  23. Virtue, like a strong and hardy plant, takes root in any place, if she finds there a generous nature and a spirit that shuns no labor —Plutarch
  24. Virtues, like essences, lose their fragrance when exposed —William Shenstone
  25. Virtuous as convict in the death house —H. L. Mencken
Similes Dictionary, 1st Edition. © 1988 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.virtue - the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrongvirtue - the quality of doing what is right and avoiding what is wrong
good, goodness - moral excellence or admirableness; "there is much good to be found in people"
2.virtue - any admirable quality or attributevirtue - any admirable quality or attribute; "work of great merit"
worth - the quality that renders something desirable or valuable or useful
3.virtue - morality with respect to sexual relationsvirtue - morality with respect to sexual relations
morality - concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct
pureness, purity, honor, honour - a woman's virtue or chastity
4.virtue - a particular moral excellencevirtue - a particular moral excellence  
cardinal virtue - one of the seven preeminent virtues
good, goodness - moral excellence or admirableness; "there is much good to be found in people"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


2. merit, strength, asset, plus (informal), attribute, good quality, good point, strong point His chief virtue is patience.
merit failing, drawback, shortcoming, frailty, weak point
3. advantage, benefit, merit, credit, usefulness, efficacy There is no virtue in overexercising.
4. chastity, honour, virginity, innocence, purity, maidenhood, chasteness His many attempts on her virtue were all unavailing.
chastity promiscuity, unchastity
by virtue of because of, in view of, on account of, based on, thanks to, as a result of, owing to, by reason of, by dint of Mr Olaechea has British residency by virtue of his marriage.
"Virtue is the fount whence honour springs" [Christopher Marlowe Tamburlaine the Great]
"Virtue is its own reward" [Cicero De Finibus]
"Virtue is like a rich stone, best plain set" [Francis Bacon Essays]
"For 'tis some virtue, virtue to commend" [William Congreve]
"Virtue could see to do what Virtue would"
"By her own radiant light, though sun and moon"
"Were in the flat sea sunk" [John Milton Comus]
"Against the threats"
"Of malice or of sorcery, or that power"
"Which erring men call chance, this I hold firm,"
"Virtue may be assailed, but never hurt,"
"Surprised by unjust force, but not enthralled" [John Milton Comus]
"It is queer how it is always one's virtues and not one's vices that precipitate one into disaster" [Rebecca West There Is No Conversation]
"The weakest of all weak things is a virtue which has not been tested in the fire" [Mark Twain The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg]
Collins Thesaurus of the English Language – Complete and Unabridged 2nd Edition. 2002 © HarperCollins Publishers 1995, 2002


1. The quality or state of being morally sound:
2. The condition of being chaste:
3. A special feature or quality that confers superiority:
4. A level of superiority that is usually high:
The American Heritage® Roget's Thesaurus. Copyright © 2013, 2014 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
عِفَّه، طَهارَهفَضيلَهميزَه حَسَنَه
dydfordelgod egenskab
erényerkölcsi tisztaság
dyggîkosturverîleiki, kostur
laba rakstura īpašībalabs raksturslabumspriekšrocībatikums
erdemfazilethasletmeziyetüstünlük avantaj


[ˈvɜːtjuː] N
1. (= good quality) → virtud f
to extol sb's virtuesalabar or ensalzar las virtudes de algn
to make a virtue of necessityhacer de la necesidad virtud
2. (= advantage) → virtud f, ventaja f
it has the virtue of simplicity or of being simpletiene la virtud or ventaja de ser sencillo
I see no virtue in (doing) thatno veo ninguna ventaja en (hacer) eso
3. (= chastity) → castidad f, honra f
her virtue was in no dangersu castidad or honra no corría peligro
he had designs on her virtueiba a tratar de seducirla
a woman of easy virtueuna mujer de vida alegre, una mujer de moralidad laxa
4. by virtue of; in virtue ofen virtud de, debido a
Collins Spanish Dictionary - Complete and Unabridged 8th Edition 2005 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1971, 1988 © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 1993, 1996, 1997, 2000, 2003, 2005


[ˈvɜːrtʃuː ˈvɜːrtjuː] n
(= goodness) → vertu f
(= good quality) → vertu f
Humility is considered a virtue → L'humilité est considérée comme une vertu.
(= advantage) → vertu f
by virtue of sth → en vertu de qch
Collins English/French Electronic Resource. © HarperCollins Publishers 2005


(= moral quality)Tugend f; to make a virtue of necessityaus der Not eine Tugend machen; a life of virtueein tugendhaftes Leben
(= chastity)Keuschheit f, → Tugendhaftigkeit f; a woman of easy virtue (euph)ein leichtes Mädchen
(= advantage, point)Vorteil m; what’s the virtue of that?welchen Vorteil hat das?, wozu ist das gut?; there is no virtue in doing thates scheint nicht sehr zweckmäßig, das zu tun
(= healing power)Heilkraft f; in or by virtue ofaufgrund or auf Grund (+gen); in or by virtue of the authority/power etc vested in mekraft meiner Autorität/Macht etc (form)
Collins German Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged 7th Edition 2005. © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1980 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1997, 1999, 2004, 2005, 2007


[ˈvɜːtjuː] n (goodness) → virtù f inv; (advantage) → pregio, vantaggio
it has the virtue of simplicity or of being simple → ha il pregio di essere semplice
I see no virtue in doing that → non vedo nessun vantaggio nel farlo
to make a virtue of necessity → fare di necessità virtù
by virtue of → in virtù di, grazie a
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995


(ˈvəːtʃuː) noun
1. a good moral quality. Honesty is a virtue.
2. a good quality. The house is small, but it has the virtue of being easy to clean.
3. goodness of character etc. She is a person of great virtue.
ˈvirtuous adjective
morally good. She is a virtuous young woman.
ˈvirtuously adverb
ˈvirtuousness noun
Kernerman English Multilingual Dictionary © 2006-2013 K Dictionaries Ltd.
References in classic literature ?
It is evident then that in the due government of a family, greater attention should be paid to the several members of it and their virtues than to the possessions or riches of it; and greater to the freemen than the slaves: but here some one may doubt whether there is any other virtue in a slave than his organic services, and of higher estimation than these, as temperance, fortitude, justice, and such-like habits, or whether they possess only bodily qualities: each side of the question has its difficulties; for if they possess these virtues, wherein do they differ from freemen?
but it is not a man's; and as a child is incomplete, it is evident that his virtue is not to be referred to himself in his present situation, but to that in which he will be complete, and his preceptor.
This Dialogue begins abruptly with a question of Meno, who asks, 'whether virtue can be taught.' Socrates replies that he does not as yet know what virtue is, and has never known anyone who did.
Now that Meno has been made to understand the nature of a general definition, he answers in the spirit of a Greek gentleman, and in the words of a poet, 'that virtue is to delight in things honourable, and to have the power of getting them.' This is a nearer approximation than he has yet made to a complete definition, and, regarded as a piece of proverbial or popular morality, is not far from the truth.
For those who have some specific habit may be said also, in virtue of that habit, to be thus or thus disposed; but those who are disposed in some specific way have not in all cases the corresponding habit.
Another sort of quality is that in virtue of which, for example, we call men good boxers or runners, or healthy or sickly: in fact it includes all those terms which refer to inborn capacity or incapacity.
"By purifying and regenerating our members we try, thirdly, to improve the whole human race, offering it in our members an example of piety and virtue, and thereby try with all our might to combat the evil which sways the world.
"In the seventh place, try, by the frequent thought of death," the Rhetor said, "to bring yourself to regard it not as a dreaded foe, but as a friend that frees the soul grown weary in the labors of virtue from this distressful life, and leads it to its place of recompense and peace."
People commended unto Zarathustra a wise man, as one who could discourse well about sleep and virtue: greatly was he honoured and rewarded for it, and all the youths sat before his chair.
The virtue of prosperity, is temperance; the virtue of adversity, is fortitude; which in morals is the more heroical virtue.
You see the fault becomes a virtue when it is hers, the treason prospers; wherefore, no doubt, the impossibility of imagining it.
I might be contented with this, and yet my vanity will add a third to the number; and him one of the greatest and noblest, not only in his rank, but in every public and private virtue. But here, whilst my gratitude for the princely benefactions of the Duke of Bedford bursts from my heart, you must forgive my reminding you that it was you who first recommended me to the notice of my benefactor.