a. Moral excellence and righteousness; goodness.
b. An example or kind of moral excellence: the virtue of patience.
2. Archaic Chastity, especially in a woman.
3. A particularly efficacious, good, or beneficial quality; advantage: a plan with the virtue of being practical.
4. Effective force or power: believed in the virtue of prayer.
5. virtues Christianity The fifth of the nine orders of angels in medieval angelology.
6. Obsolete Manly courage; valor.
by/in virtue of
On the grounds or basis of; by reason of: well-off by virtue of a large inheritance.
[Middle English vertu, from Old French, from Latin virtūs, manliness, excellence, goodness, from vir, man; see wī-ro- in the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2019 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.