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[vir-uh l or, esp. British, -ahyl] /ˈvɪr əl or, esp. British, -aɪl/
of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or befitting a man; masculine; manly:
virile strength.
having or exhibiting masculine energy, forcefulness, or strength in a marked degree.
characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit:
a virile literary style.
of, relating to, or capable of procreation.
Origin of virile
1480-90; < Latin virīlis manly, equivalent to vir man (akin to Old English wer man; see werewolf) + -īlis -ile
Related forms
nonvirile, adjective
subvirile, adjective
ultravirile, adjective
unvirile, adjective
Can be confused
viral, virile.
2. vigorous. See male. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the Web for virile
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He nodded, then his virile face changed and he gave me a sulky look.

    The Maid-At-Arms Robert W. Chambers
  • He turned his gaze on McMahon, and saw there the like virile detestation of himself.

    Making People Happy Thompson Buchanan
  • Ninety-nine out of every hundred normal, virile men are more or less nervous when they first step up for rapid fire.

    The Plattsburg Manual O.O. Ellis and E.B. Garey
  • Such live, virile humans as they must have a live, virile pipe-smoke.'

    The Perfect Gentleman Ralph Bergengren
  • So again he got access, for the virile strength that was in him.

  • His virile will was dormant, crushed, but it was by no means dead.

    The Brentons Anna Chapin Ray
  • He finished with a sheepish grin, as he grasped the visitor's soft little hand and pumped it up and down with virile energy.

    When A Man's A Man Harold Bell Wright
  • virile nations are not made by theories or by the blast of the trumpet.

    The Truth About Woman C. Gasquoine Hartley
British Dictionary definitions for virile


of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an adult male
(of a male) possessing high sexual drive and capacity for sexual intercourse
of or capable of copulation or procreation
strong, forceful, or vigorous
Derived Forms
virility (vɪˈrɪlɪtɪ) noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin virīlis manly, from vir a man; related to Old English wer man and probably to Latin vis strength
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for virile

late 15c., from Old French viril, from Latin virilis "of a man, manly," from vir "a man, a hero," from PIE *uiHro "freeman" (cf. Sanskrit virah, Avestan vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Lithuanian vyras, Old Irish fer, Welsh gwr, Gothic wair, Old English wer "man"). Virile member for "penis" is recorded from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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virile in Medicine

virile vir·ile (vēr'əl, -īl')

  1. Of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an adult male, especially the ability to perform sexually as a male.

  2. Having or showing masculine spirit, strength, vigor, or power.

  3. Sexually potent.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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