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Virtuous Definition: What Constitutes Moral Behavior

Virtuous Definition: What Constitutes Moral Behavior

You’ve probably heard of people being referred to as virtuous. But what does that mean?

The term itself is closely connected with the concept of virtue, which dates back to ancient Greece and the works of the great philosopher, Aristotle.

The Romans adopted the concept in the 5th century, but the term itself wouldn’t enter the English language until the Late Middle Ages.

Although most commonly discussed in a religious context, virtuousness is a spiritual and ethical concept that transcends religion.

In this article, we’ll discuss the virtuous definition and look into examples of virtue found in religious and secular works.

How Do You Define Virtue?


So, what is the virtue definition?

Well, virtues are character traits that demonstrate a person’s moral excellence.

Any personal quality that is universally seen as positive or morally good can be described as a virtue. For example, most cultures see honesty, courage, kindness, and respect as virtues.

But throughout history, different cultures have had different concepts of virtue.

Almost two and a half millennia ago, Aristotle compiled a list of 12 virtues, which – in addition to the four mentioned above – also included patience, wittiness, justice, and healthy ambition.

The Romans narrowed that list down to seven essential virtues, each in contract to one of the seven deadly sins. Known as the holy virtues, they enabled people to avoid the temptation of committing sins.

Confucianism and Sikhism both have their own lists of essential virtues.

For Confucians, a combination of honesty, integrity, knowledge, benevolence, and worship is something to live by.

Meanwhile, Sikhs believe that truthful living combined with contentment, humility, compassion, and love of God will bring them closer to the creator.

definition of virtuous

What Do You Mean By Virtuous?

Some people are referred to as virtuous, which means that they aim to achieve moral excellence.

Like virtue, different schools of thought define virtuous and moral excellence in different ways.

If we defined virtues as traits that showcase a strong, moral character, we could say that virtuous people have the ability to do right by themselves and others in any situation.

However, if we were to define virtues as universally recognized qualities that bring people closer to happiness and well-being, then virtuous people are those who use their virtues to accomplish their goals.

The concept of virtuousness is flexible and depends on a person’s ethical and religious background.

But by combining different teachings,  a virtuous person is one that does the right thing at the right time and in the right way. Virtuous people have the courage and self-control to stand up for what they know is right.

What is a virtuous man?

Most Christians look to the Bible to find out what it means to be virtuous.

While the Bible doesn’t explicitly define a virtuous man, we can compile a list of three desirable character traits by looking at the biblical depictions of godly men: David, Job, Joseph, Timothy, and Paul. According to those depictions, a virtuous man embodies integrity, faith, and obedience.

Looking beyond religious teachings, any man who lives by a set of self-defined principles and maintains those principles under extreme pressure can be called virtuous. Those principles usually include courage, generosity, loyalty, honesty, gratitude, helpfulness, and friendliness.

What is the definition of a virtuous woman?

A virtuous woman, as defined in the Proverbs 31, is one who practices integrity and discipline. 

The Bible says that a virtuous woman is loving, wise, charitable, and trustworthy. She is a hard worker, a good manager, and always strives to set a positive example to her children.

The final word

Virtues are a representation of our moral excellence. And moral excellence – according to Aristotle – is the result of habit.

None of us was born virtuous, but we can make virtues part of our routine by practicing them in our everyday lives. Whether you’re religious or not, practicing virtues can help you build a strong, unbreakable character and improve the quality of your life.

Do you consider yourself virtuous? How do you practice virtues in your everyday life? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Written by
Irina Yugay