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.

1175–1225; alteration (with i < Latin) of Middle English vertu < Anglo-French, Old French < Latin virtūt- (stem of virtūs) maleness, worth, virtue, equivalent to vir man (see virile) + -tūt- abstract noun suffix

virtueless, adjective
virtuelessness, noun
nonvirtue, noun

1. See goodness. 2. probity, integrity.

1. vice. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
virtue (ˈvɜːtjuː, -tʃuː)
1.  the quality or practice of moral excellence or righteousness
2.  a particular moral excellence: the virtue of tolerance
3.  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]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History

early 13c., "moral life and conduct, moral excellence," vertu, from Anglo-Fr. and O.Fr. vertu, from L. virtutem (nom. virtus) "moral strength, manliness, valor, excellence, worth," from vir "man" (see virile). Phrase by virtue of (early 13c.) preserves alternative M.E. sense
of "efficacy." Wyclif Bible has virtue where K.J.V. 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 L. facere de necessitate virtutem. [Jerome]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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American Heritage
Idioms & Phrases


see by virtue of; make a virtue of necessity.

The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997. Published by Houghton Mifflin.
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Example sentences
Goodness answers to the theological virtue charity, and admits no excess, but
Confucians believed an emperor ruled by a mandate from heaven and that his
  virtue should inspire good behavior in his subjects.
And to protect its cash cow, the company has strayed more than once from the
  path of environmental virtue.
But perhaps there's some virtue in truly forgetting-and not storing memories
  anywhere at all.
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