Webster's Dictionary 1828 - Online Edition

Webster's Dictionary 1828

Americal Dictionary of the English Language

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VIRTUE, noun vur'tu. [Latin virtus, from vireo, or its root. See Worth.] The radical sense is strength, from straining, stretching, extending. This is the primary sense of Latin vir, a man.]

1. Strength; that substance or quality of physical bodies, by which they act and produce effects on other bodies. In this literal and proper sense, we speak of the virtue or virtues of plants in medicine, and the virtues of drugs. In decoctions, the virtues of plants are extracted. By long standing in the open air, the virtues are lost.

2. Bravery valor. This was the predominant signification of virtus among the Romans.

Trust to thy single virtue

[This sense is nearly or quite obsolete.]

3. Moral goodness; the practice of moral duties and the abstaining from vice, or a conformity of life and conversation to the moral law. In this sense, virtue may be, and in many instances must be, distinguished from religion. The practice of moral duties merely from motives of convenience, or from compulsion, or from regard to reputation, is virtue as distinct from religion. The practice of moral duties from sincere love to God and his laws, is virtue and religion. In this sense it is true,

That virtue only makes our bliss below.

VIRTUE is nothing but voluntary obedience to truth.

4. A particular moral excellence; as the virtue of temperance, of chastity, of charity.

Remember all his virtues.

5. Acting power; something efficacious.

Jesus, knowing that virtue had gone out of him, turned - Mark 3:1.

6. Secret agency; efficacy without visible or material action.

She moves the body which she doth possess,

Yet no part toucheth, but by virtue's touch.

7. Excellence; or that which constitutes value and merit.

- Terence, who thought the sole grace and virtue of their fable, the sticking in of sentences.

8. One of the orders of the celestial hierarchy.

Thrones, dominations, princedoms, virtues, powers.

9. Efficacy; power.

He used to travel through Greece by virtue of this fable, which procured him reception in all the towns.

10. Legal efficacy or power; authority. A man administers the laws by virtue of a commission.

In virtue in consequence; by the efficacy or authority.

This they shall attain, partly in virtue of the promise of God, and partly in virtue of piety.