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[vur-choo-uh l] /ˈvɜr tʃu əl/
being such in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such:
a virtual dependence on charity.
  1. noting an image formed by the apparent convergence of rays geometrically, but not actually, prolonged, as the image formed by a mirror (opposed to real).
  2. noting a focus of a system forming virtual images.
temporarily simulated or extended by computer software:
a virtual disk in RAM; virtual memory on a hard disk.
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin virtuālis, equivalent to Latin virtu(s) virtue + -ālis -al1
Related forms
virtuality, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for virtual
  • As a result of heavy spending from the trust funds, the government faces virtual bankruptcy.
  • Now some universities are using the virtual world to train nurses.
  • But the fast-increasing array of virtual programs poses a challenge.
  • virtual dissections cannot replace the latter as everything is always the same every single time you look at it.
  • Finally, the report describes how some community colleges are enhancing what it calls their virtual space, or online presence.
  • Sometimes, overall ratings carry question marks, so virtual owners can't tell whether they're cutting a future star.
  • The father of virtual reality believed technology promised infinite possibilities.
  • Perhaps an even less intrusive way to see the paintings is through an online virtual tour.
  • It's the equivalent of physical design, but applied to the digital and virtual world.
  • Colonial cities are virtual living museums, monuments to a gracious period of viceroys.
British Dictionary definitions for virtual


having the essence or effect but not the appearance or form of: a virtual revolution
(physics) being, relating to, or involving a virtual image: a virtual focus
(computing) of or relating to virtual storage: virtual memory
of or relating to a computer technique by which a person, wearing a headset or mask, has the experience of being in an environment created by the computer, and of interacting with and causing changes in it
(rare) capable of producing an effect through inherent power or virtue
(physics) designating or relating to a particle exchanged between other particles that are interacting by a field of force: a virtual photon See also exchange force
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin virtuālis effective, from Latin virtūsvirtue
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 virtual

late 14c., "influencing by physical virtues or capabilities," from Medieval Latin virtualis, from Latin virtus "excellence, potency, efficacy," literally "manliness, manhood" (see virtue). The meaning of "being something in essence or fact, though not in name" is first recorded 1650s, probably via sense of "capable of producing a certain effect" (early 15c.). Computer sense of "not physically existing but made to appear by software" is attested from 1959.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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virtual in Technology

jargon, architecture
(Via the technical term virtual memory, probably from the term "virtual image" in optics) 1. Common alternative to logical; often used to refer to the artificial objects (like addressable virtual memory larger than physical memory) created by a computer system to help the system control access to shared resources.
2. Simulated; performing the functions of something that isn't really there. An imaginative child's doll may be a virtual playmate.
Opposite of real or physical.
[Jargon File]

The Free On-line Dictionary of Computing, © Denis Howe 2010
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