- moral excellence; goodness; righteousness.
- conformity of one’s life and conduct to moral and ethical principles; uprightness; rectitude.
- chastity; virginity: to lose one’s virtue.
- a particular moral excellence.Compare cardinal virtues, natural virtue, theological virtue.
- a good or admirable quality or property: the virtue of knowing one’s weaknesses.
- effective force; power or potency: a charm with the virtue of removing warts.
- virtues, an order of angels.Compare angel(def 1).
- manly excellence; valor.
- by/in virtue of, by reason of; because of: to act by virtue of one’s legitimate authority.
- make a virtue of necessity, to make the best of a difficult or unsatisfactory situation.
- the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness
- a particular moral excellencethe virtue of tolerance
- any of the cardinal virtues (prudence, justice, fortitude, and temperance) or theological virtues (faith, hope, and charity)
- any admirable quality, feature, or trait
- chastity, esp in women
- archaic an effective, active, or inherent power or force
- by virtue of or in virtue of on account of or by reason of
- make a virtue of necessity to acquiesce in doing something unpleasant with a show of grace because one must do it in any case
n.early 13c., “moral life and conduct, moral excellence,” vertu, from Anglo-French and Old French vertu, from Latin virtutem (nominative virtus) “moral strength, manliness, valor, excellence, worth,” from vir “man” (see virile). For my part I honour with the name of virtue the habit of acting in a way troublesome to oneself and useful to others. [Stendhal “de l’Amour,” 1822] Phrase by virtue of (early 13c.) preserves alternative Middle English sense of “efficacy.” Wyclif Bible has virtue where KJV uses power. The seven cardinal virtues (early 14c.) were divided into the natural (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude) and the theological (hope, faith, charity). To make a virtue of a necessity (late 14c.) translates Latin facere de necessitate virtutem [Jerome]. To pretend that one is freely and happily doing something one has been forced to do: “Once the mayor was forced by the voters to cut his budget, he made a virtue of necessity and loudly denounced government spending.” Do the best one can under given circumstances, as in Since he can’t break the contract, Bill’s making a virtue of necessity. This expression first appeared in English in Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale: “Then is it wisdom, as it thinketh me, to make virtue of necessity.” Also see make the best of. see by virtue of; make a virtue of necessity.