A Dictionary of the English Language
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Vi'rtue. n.s. [virtus, Lat.]

  1. Moral grounds.

    Either I'm mistaken, or there is virtue in that Falstaff. Shakesp.

    If there's a power above us,
    And that there is, all nature cries aloud
    Through all her works, he must delight in virtue,
    And that which he delights in must be happy.

    Virtue only makes our bliss below. Pope.

    The character of prince Henry is improved by Shakespear; and through the veil of his vices and irregularities, we see a dawn of greatness and virtue. Shakesp. illustrated.

  2. A particular moral excellence.

                In Belmont is a lady,
    And she is fair, and, fairer than that word,
    Of wond'rous virtues.
    Shakesp. Merchant of Venice.

            Remember all his virtues,
    And shew mankind that goodness is your care.

  3. Medicinal quality.

                        All blest secrets,
    All you unpublish'd virtues of the earth,
    Be aidant and remediate.
    Shakesp. K. Lear.

    The virtuous bezoar is taken from the beast that feedeth upon the mountains; and that without virtue from those that feed in the vallies. Bacon.

  4. Medicinal efficacy.

    An essay writer must practice the chemical method, and give the vitue of a draught in a few drops. Addison.

  5. Efficacy; power.

    If neither words, nor herbs will do, I'll try stones; for there's a virtue in them. L'Estrange.

    Where there is a full purpose to please God, there, what a man can do, shall, by virtue therefore, be accepted. South.

    They are not sure, by virtue of syllogism, that the conclusion certainly follows from the premises. Locke.

    This they shall attain, partly in virtue of the promise made by God; and partly in virtue of piety. Atterbury.

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

  6. Acting power.

    Jesus knowing that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about. Mark v. 30.

  7. 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.

  8. Bravery; valour.

    Trust to thy single virtue; for thy soldiers
    Took their discharge.
    Shakesp. K. Lear.

    The conquest of Palestine, with singular virtue they performed, and held that kingdom some few generations. Raleigh.

  9. Excellence; that which gives excellence.

    In the Greek poets, as also in Plautus, the oeconomy of poems is better observed than in Terence; who thought the sole grace and virtue of their fable, the sticking in of sentences, as ours do the forcing in of jests. B. Johnson.

  10. One of the orders of the celestial hierarchy.

    Thrones, domination, princedoms, virtues, pow'rs. Milt.

    A winged virtue through th' etherial sky,
    From orb to orb unwearied dost thou fly.

Sources: Addison, Joseph (408) · Atterbury, Francis (75) · Bacon, Francis (396) · Davies, John (45) · Shakespeare's Henry IV, Part 1 (46) · Jonson, Ben (70) · Shakespeare's King Lear (144) · L'Estrange, Roger (131) · Lennox, Charlotte (2) · Locke, John (269) · The Bible - Mark (11) · Shakespeare's Merchant of Venice (83) · Milton, John (449) · Pope, Alexander (393) · Raleigh, Walter (68) · South, Robert (158) · Tickell, Thomas (12)

Attributes: Latin (690) · Noun Substantive (1269)

Search for this word in: American Heritage · Cambridge · Dictionary.com · The Free Dictionary · Longman · Merriam-Webster · OneLook · Oxford Dictionaries · Vocabulary.com · Wiktionary · Wordnik

Cite this page: Johnson, Samuel. "Virtue." A Dictionary of the English Language: A Digital Edition of the 1755 Classic by Samuel Johnson. Edited by Brandi Besalke. Last modified: February 15, 2014. https://johnsonsdictionaryonline.com/virtue/.

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