Virtue Meaning: Here’s What It Means and How To Use It

Virtue is one of the most important things in the world. This is virtue’s meaning and how to understand it in practical ways!

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To some, virtue is one of the most valuable things in the world. While money, prestige, and power are nice, a person who displays moral qualities associated with virtue is almost always successful in life. It goes beyond material pleasures — although it can help people achieve the things they want most. The admirable quality of virtue can truly bring excellence and satisfaction to a person’s life. 

But when it comes down to it, what does this particular moral excellence look like in the modern world? The definition of virtue has changed over the years as the meaning of good morals has shifted with cultures and societies. However, the idea of virtue being its reward has remained consistent in stories and leaders throughout history. 

This is what virtue means, where the word comes from, and why this good quality is so important in life. 

What Does Virtue Mean? 

The modern definition of a virtue (ˈvɜr tʃu) is a quality or behavior that shows high moral standards. Having moral virtue means that you aim incredibly high and have lofty standards. People who exemplify virtue are typically unselfish, hardworking, honest, kind, and benevolent towards all people they interact with. 

There is a lot of inherent power behind being a person of virtue and integrity. Someone who exhibits a lot of goodness in their lives and actions will typically be appreciated, loved, and respected by a broad group of people. 

People who display natural virtue in their lives are often much more trusted and valued than those who don’t. Increasing your personal quality of goodness is a fantastic way to create healthy connections with the people around you. 

Another way that virtue is often used is as a word that describes values and ideas that are found within a belief system. For example, there are many theological virtues that people try to exemplify in their daily lives within Christianity. There are a few cardinal virtues that virtually all people within those belief systems choose to follow. Some of these virtues are called the Order of Angels because they are so highly valued within Christianity. 

If you were to use a thesaurus to find word lists of synonyms for the word virtue, here are some of the words that would likely appear: 

  • Honor
  • Rectitude
  • Righteousness
  • Manliness
  • Honesty
  • Ethical
  • Merit
  • Decency
  • Upright
  • Virile

Where Does the Word Virtue Come From? 

Like many words in the English language, the word virtue comes from Latin. While it has shifted dramatically over the centuries, it remains relatively faithful to its origins. 

Virtue is first seen in the Early Latin vir, which means “man.” The idea behind this word is that it would describe men who were upright and genuinely focused on benefitting the world around them through honor and honesty. As time went on, the meaning got transformed into the Latin virtus, which meant “valor,” “merit,” and “moral upstandingness.” This continued and deepened the sense of vir in a way that kept up with the culture at the time. 

Over the years, the word was eventually brought into Old French in the form of the phrase vertu. This was quickly transposed into the Middle English vertu, from which the modern virtue was derived. Virtue as a word was ubiquitous throughout Middle English because virtue was such an essential part of life in that time period. The etymology of the word helps to detail and explain the lives and thoughts of people throughout history. 

What Does Virtue Mean Today? 

Virtue is something that is still highly valued in the world today. The virtue of hard work is especially valued in the modern world because it is the basis on which a lot of success is built. Many people see people who work hard from the “bottom” to the “top” as the paragon of virtue simply because they work incredibly hard to find success in life. 

Sometimes, you will hear virtue used in the phrase “virtue signaling.” Virtue signaling occurs when people shout about their virtues or charitable actions from the rooftops (AKA, typically on social media). These people often perform charitable acts simply to “prove” that they are a good person and feel above others. If you need people to know that you’re virtuous to feel like it’s worthwhile, perhaps your motives aren’t as pure as they should be.

Example Sentences Using the Word Virtue

One of the best and most effective ways to learn to use a word is by seeing it in context within an actual sentence. These sentences can show you how virtue is used grammatically and contextually so that you can start using it as well. 

The unabridged version of the biography showed that Mr. Matthew was indeed a man of virtue and excellence. 

Between all of the idioms and collocations in her speech, we were able to identify the virtues that she was trying to teach us. 

One of the primary virtues behind having a “Word of the Day” section on our website is showing people that we genuinely care about education and knowledge. 


One of the best ways to become a person of integrity and virtue is by educating yourself on communication and language in the world today. Knowing how to communicate powerfully is an essential tool a person can use to advance in the modern world. 

If you want to expand your knowledge of language and communication, you’re in luck — that’s precisely why The Word Counter exists! Feel free to check out our blog if you ever want to learn how to use words and language in new ways or just seeking to find out how to use words appropriately. 

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  1. Virtue Definition & Meaning |
  2. Virtue – Definition, Meaning & Synonyms |
  3. Virtue definition and meaning | Collins English Dictionary