Noah Webster’s 1828 Dictionary



VIRTUALITY, n. Efficacy.

VIRTUALLY, adv. In efficacy or effect only; by means of some virtue or influence, or the instrumentality of something else. Thus the sun is virtually on earth by its light and heat. The citizens of an elective government are virtually present in the legislature by their representatives. A man may virtually agree to a proposition by silence or withholding objections.

VIRTUATE, v.t. To make efficacious. [Not in use.]

VIRTUE, n. vur’tu. [L. virtus, from vireo, or its root. See Worth.] The radical sense is strength, from straining, stretching, extending. This is the primary sense of L. 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 5:30.

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.


1. Destitute of virtue.

2. Destitute of efficacy or operating qualities.

Virtueless she wish’d all herbs and charms.

VIRTUOSO, n. A man skilled in the fine arts, particularly in music; or a man skilled in antiquities, curiosities and the like.

Virtuoso the Italians call a man who loves the nobel arts, and is a critic in them.

VIRTUOSOSHIP, n. The pursuits of a virtuoso.


1. Morally good; acting in conformity to the moral law; practicing the moral duties, and abstaining from vice; as a virtuous man.

2. Being in conformity to the moral or divine law; as a virtuous action; a virtuous life.

The mere performance of virtuous actions does not denominate an agent virtuous.

3. Chaste; applied to women.

4. Efficacious by inherent qualities; as virtuous herbs; virtuous drugs. [Not in use.]

5. Having great or powerful properties; as virtuous steel; a virtuous staff; a virtuous ring. [Not in use.]

6. Having medicinal qualities. [Not used.]

VIRTUOUSLY, adv. In a virtuous manner; in conformity with the moral law or with duty; as a life virtuously spent.

A child virtuously educated.

VIRTUOUSNESS, n. The state or character of being virtuous.

VIRULENCE, VIRULENCY, n. [from virulent.]

1. That renders it extremely active in doing injury; acrimony; malignancy; as the virulence of poison.

2. Acrimony of temper; extreme bitterness or malignity; as the virulence of enmity or malice; the virulence of satire; to attack a man with virulence.

VIRULENT, a. [L. virulentus, from virus, poison, that is, strength, from the same root as vir, vireo. See Venom.]

1. Extremely active in doing injury; very poisonous or venomous. No poison is more virulent than that of some species of serpents.

2. Very bitter in enmity; malignant; as a virulent invective.

VIRULENTLY, adv. With malignant activity; with bitter spite or severity.

VIRUS, n. [L. See Virulent.] Foul or contagious matter of an ulcer, postule, etc.; poison.

VISAGE, n. s as z. [L. visus, video.]

The face; the countenance or look of a person, or of other animal; chiefly applied to human beings; as a wolfish visage.

Love and beauty still that visage grace.

His visage was so marred, more than any man. Isaiah 52:14.

VISAGED, a. Having a visage or countenance.

VIS-A-VIS, n. A carriage in which two persons sit face to face.

VISCERA, n. [L.] The bowels or intestines; the contents of the abdomen and thorax.

In its most general sense, the organs contained in any cavity of the body, particularly in the three venters, the head, thorax and abdomen.

VISCERAL, a. [L. viscera.]

1. Pertaining to the viscera or intestines.

2. Feeling; having sensibility. [Unusual.]

VISCERATE, v.t. [supra.] To exenterate; to embowel; to deprive of the entrails or viscera. [Eviscerate is generally used.]

VISCID, a. [L. viscidus; viscus, birdlime.] Glutinous; sticky; tenacious; not readily separating; as, turpentine, tar, gums, etc. are more or less viscid.


1. Glutinousness; tenacity; stickiness.

2. Glutinous concretion.

VISCOSITY, VISCOUSNESS, n. Glutinousness; tenacity; viscidity; that quality of soft substances which makes them adhere so as not to be easily parted.

VISCOUNT, n. vi’count. [L. vice-comes.]

1. An officer who formerly supplied the place of the count or earl; the sheriff of the country.

2. A degree or title of nobility next in rank to an earl.

VISCOUNTESS, n. vi’countess. The lady of a viscount; a peeress of the fourth order.

VISCOUNTSHIP, n. vi’countship.

VISCOUNTY, n. vi’county. The quality and office of a viscount.

VISCOUS, a. [L. viscus, birdlime.]

Glutinous; clammy; sticky; adhesive; tenacious; as a viscous juice.

VISE, n. An engine or instrument for griping and holding things, closed by a screw; used by artificers.

VISHNU, n. In the Hindoo mythology, the name of one of the chief deities of the trimurti or triad. He is the second person of this unity, and a personification of the preserving powers.

VISIBILITY, n. s as z.

1. The state or quality of being perceivable to the eye; as the visibility of minute particles, or of distant objects.

2. The state of being discoverable or apparent; conspicuousness; as the perpetual visibility of the church.

VISIBLE, a. s as z. [L. visibilis.]

1. Perceivable by the eye; that can be seen; as a visible star; the least spot is visible on white paper; air agitated by heat becomes visible; as the air near a heated stove, or over a dry sandy plain, appears like pellucid waves.

Virtue made visible in outward grace.

2. Discovered to the eye; as visible spirits.

3. Apparent; open; conspicuous. Factions at court became more visible.

Visible church, in theology, the apparent church of Christ; the whole body of professed believers in Christ, as contradistinguished from the real or invisible church, consisting of sanctified persons.

Visible horizon, the line that bounds the sight.

VISIBLENESS, n. State or quality of being visible; visibility.

VISIBLY, adv. In a manner perceptible to the eye. The day is visibly governed by the sun; the tides are visibly governed by the moon.

VISION, n. s as z. [L. visio, from video, visus.]

1. The act of seeing external objects; actual sight.

Faith here is turned into vision there.

2. The faculty of seeing; sight. Vision is far more perfect and acute in some animals than in man.

3. Something imagined to be seen, though not real; a phantom; a specter.

No dreams, but visions strange.

4. In Scripture, a revelation from God; an appearance or exhibition of something supernaturally presented to the minds of the prophets, by which they were informed of future events. Such were the visions of Isaiah, of Amos, of Ezekiel, etc.

5. Something imaginary; the production of fancy.

6. Any thing which is the object of sight.

VISIONAL, a. Pertaining to a vision.


1. Affected by phantoms; disposed to receive impressions on the imagination.

Or lull to rest the visionary maid.

2. Imaginary; existing in imagination only; not real; having no solid foundation; as a visionary prospect; a visionary scheme or project.


1. One whose imagination is disturbed.

2. One who forms impracticable schemes; one who is confident of success in a project which others perceive to be idle and fanciful. [Visionist, in a like sense, is not used.]

VISIT, v.t. [L. visito, viso, to go to see. We see the sense is to go, to move to.]

1. To go or come to see; to attend. The physician visits his patient and prescribes. One friend visits another from respect or affection. Paul and Barnabas visited the churches they had planted, to know their state and confirm their faith. Men visit England, France or Italy in their travels.

2. To go or come to see for inspection, examination, correction of abuses, etc.; as, a bishop visits his diocese; a superintendent visits those persons or works which are under his care.

3. To salute with a present.

Samson visited his wife with a kid. Judges 15:1.

4. To go to and to use; as, to visit the springs.

To visit in mercy, in Scriptural language, to be propitious; to grant requests; to deliver from trouble; to support and comfort.

It is thus God visits his people. Genesis 21:1; Zechariah 10:3; Luke 1:68.

To visit with the rod, to punish. Psalm 89:32.

To visit in wrath, or visit iniquity or sings upon, to chastise; to bring judgments on; to afflict. Exodus 20:5.

To visit the fatherless and widow, or the sick and imprisoned, to show them regard and pity, and relieve their wants. Matthew 25:36; James 1:27.

VISIT, v.i. To keep up the interchange of civilities and salutations; to practice going to see others. We ought not to visit for pleasure or ceremony on the sabbath.

1. The act of going to see another, or of calling at his house; a waiting on; as a visit of civility or respect; a visit of ceremony; a short visit; a long visit; a pleasant visit.

2. The act of going to see; as a visit to Saratoga or to Niagara.

3. A going to see or attending on; as the visit of a physician.

4. The act of going to view or inspect; as the visit of a trustee or inspector.

VISITABLE, a. Liable or subject to be visited. all hospitals built since the reformation are visitable by the king or lord chancellor.

VISITANT, n. One that goes or comes to see another; one who is a guest in the house of a friend.

When the visitant comes again he is no more a stranger.

VISITATION, n. [L. visito.]

1. The act of visiting.

Nothing but peace and gentle visitation.

2. Object of visit.

My early visitation and my last. [Unusual.]

3. In law, the act of a superior or superintending officer, who visits a corporation, college, church or other house, to examine into the manner in which it is conducted, and see that its laws and regulations are duly observed and executed. In England, the visitation of the diocese belongs to the bishop; parochial visitation belongs peculiarly to the archdeacons.

4. In Scripture, and in a religious sense, the sending of afflictions and distresses on men to punish them for their sins, or to prove them. Hence afflictions, calamities and judgments are called visitations.

What will ye do in the day of visitation? Isaiah 10:3.

5. Communication of divine love; exhibition of divine goodness and mercy.

VISITED, pp. Waited on; attended; inspected; subjected to sufferings; favored with relief or mercy.


1. Going or coming to see; attending on, as a physician; inspecting officially; afflicting; showing mercy to.

2. a. Authorized to visit and inspect; as a visiting committee.

VISITING, n. The act of going to see or of attending; visitation.


1. One who comes or goes to see another, as in civility or friendship.

2. A superior or person authorized to visit a corporation or any institution, for the purpose of seeing that the laws and regulations are observed, or that the duties and conditions prescribed by the founder or by law, are duly performed and executed.

The king is the visitor of all lay corporations.

VISITORIAL, a. [from visitor; written improperly visitatorial.]

Belonging to a judicial visitor or superintendent.

An archdeacon has visitorial power in parishes.

VISIVE, a. [from L. visus.] Pertaining to the power of seeing; formed in the act of seeing. [Not in use.]

VISNE, n. veen. [L. vicinia.] Neighborhood. [See Venue.]

VISNOMY, n. [a barbarous contraction of physiognomy.] Face; countenance. [Not in use.]

VISOR, n. s as z. [L. visus, video; written also visard, visar, vizard.]

1. A head piece or mask used to disfigure and disguise.

My weaker government since, makes you pull off the visor.

Swarms of knaves the visor quite disgrace.

2. A perforated part of a helmet.

VISORED, a. Wearing a visor; masked; disguised.

VISTA, n. [L. visus, video.] A view or prospect through an avenue, as between rows of trees; hence, the trees or other things that form the avenue.

The finish’d garden to the view its vistas opens and its alleys green.

VISUAL, a. s as z. [L. visus.]

Pertaining to sight; used in sight; serving as the instrument of seeing; as the visual nerve.

The air, no where so clear, sharpen’d his visual ray.

Visual point, in perspective, a point in the horizontal line, in which all the ocular rays unite.

Visual rays, lines of light, imagined to come from the object to the eye.

VITAL, a. [L. vitalis, from vita, life. This must be a contraction of victa, for vivo forms vixi, victus; Gr. contracted.]

1. Pertaining to life, either animal or vegetable; as vital energies; vital powers.

2. Contributing to life; necessary to life; as vital air; vital blood.

3. Containing life.

Spirits that live throughout, vital in every part - and vital virtue infus’d, and vital warmth.

4. Being the seat of life; being that on which life depends.

The dart flew on, and pierc’d a vital part.

5. Very necessary; highly important; essential. Religion is a business of vital concern. Peace is of vital importance to our country.

6. So disposed as to live.

Pythagoras and Hippocrates affirm the birth of the seventh month to be vital. [Little used.]

Vital air, pure air or oxygen gas, which is essential to animal life.

VITALITY, n. [from vital.]

1. Power of subsisting in life; the principle of animation, or of life; as the vitality of vegetable seeds or of eggs.

2. The act of living; animation.

VITALIZE, v.t. To give life.


1. In such a manner as to give life.

The organic structure of human bodies, by which they are fitted to live and move, and to be vitally informed by the soul, is the workmanship of a most wise and beneficent maker.

2. Essentially; as vitally important.

VITALS, n. plu.

1. Parts of animal bodies essential to life, such as the viscera.

2. The part essential to life, or to a sound state. Corruption of manners preys upon the vitals of a state.

VITELLARY, n. [L. vitellus, the yolk of an egg.]

The place where the yolk of an egg swims in the white. [Little used.]

VITIATE, v.t. [L. vitio. See Vice and Viciate.]

1. To injure the substance or qualities of a thing, so as to impair or spoil its use and value. Thus we say, luxury vitiates the humors of the body; evil examples vitiate the morals of youth; language is vitiated by foreign idioms.

This undistinguishing complaisance will vitiate the taste of readers.

2. To render defective; to destroy; as the validity or binding force of an instrument or transaction. Any undue influence exerted on a jury vitiates their verdict. Fraud vitiates a contract.

VITIATED, pp. Depraved; rendered impure; rendered defective and void.

VITIATING, ppr. Depraving; rendering of no validity.


1. The act of vitiating; depravation; corruption; as the vitiation of the blood.

2. A rendering invalid; as the vitiation of a contract.

VITILITIGATE, v.i. [L. vitiosus and litigo.] To contend in law litigiously or cavilously. [Not in use.]

VITILITIGATION, n. Cavilous litigation. [Not in use.]

Vitious, vitiously, vitiousness. [See Vicious and its derivatives.]

VITREO-ELECTRIC, a. Containing or exhibiting positive electricity, or that which is excited by rubbing glass.

VITREOUS, a. [L. vitreus, from vitrum, glass or woad.]

1. Pertaining to glass.

2. Consisting of glass; as a vitreous substance.

3. Resembling glass; as the vitreous humor of the eye, so called from its resembling melted glass. [See Humor.]

VITREOUSNESS, n. The quality or state of being vitreous; resemblance of glass.

VITRESCENCE, n. [from L. vitrum, glass.] Glassiness; or the quality of being capable of conversion into glass; susceptibility of being formed into glass.

VITRESCENT, a. Capable of being formed into glass; tending to become glass.

VITRESCIBLE, a. That can be vitrified.

VITRIFACTION, n. [See Vitrify.] The act, process or operation of converting into glass by heat; as the vitrifaction of sand, flint and pebbles with alkaline salts.

VITRIFIABLE, a. [from vitrify.] Capable of being converted into glass by heat and fusion. Flint and alkaline salts are vitrifiable.

VITRIFICABLE, for vitrifiable. [Not used.]

VITRIFICATE, for vitrify. [Not used.]

VITRIFICATION, for vitrifaction. [See Vitrifaction, which is generally used.]

VITRIFIED, pp. Converted into glass.

VITRIFORM, a. [L. vitrum, glass, and form.]

Having the form or resemblance of glass.

VITRIFY, v.t. [L. vitrum, glass, and facio, to make.]

To convert into glass by fusion or the action of heat; as, to vitrify sand and alkaline salts.

VITRIFY, v.i. To become glass; to be converted into glass.

Chimists make vessels of animal substances calcined, which will not vitrify in the fire.

VITRIOL, n. [L. vitrum, glass; perhaps from its color.]

1. In mineralogy, native vitriol is a substance of a grayish or yellowish white color, apple green, or sky blue, and when decomposed, covered with an ochery crust. It occurs in masses, disseminated, stalactical, or capillary. Externally, it is dull and rough; internally, it is more or less shining, with a vitreous silky structure. It is called by manufacturers copperas, a name derived from the flower or efflorescence of copper. This substance is seem only in cabinets.

2. In chimistry, a combination of the acid of sulphur with any metallic substance; but chiefly green vitriol, or sulphate of iron; blue vitriol, or sulphate of copper, and white vitriol, or sulphate of zink.

All metals may be converted into vitriols, by dissolving them with acid spirits, and suffering them to stand and crystallize.

VITRIOLATE, v.t. To convert, as sulphur in any compound, into sulphuric acid, formerly called vitriolic acid. Thus the sulphuret of iron vitriolated, becomes sulphate of iron, or green vitriol.

VITRIOLATED, pp. Converted into sulphuric acid or vitriol.

VITRIOLATING, ppr. Turning into sulphuric acid or vitrol.

VITRIOLATION, n. The act or process of converting into sulphuric acid or vitriol.

VITRIOLIC, a. Pertaining to vitriol; having the qualities of vitriol, or obtained from vitriol.

Vitriolic acid, in modern chimistry is denominated sulphuric acid, the base of it being sulphur; sulphur completely saturated with oxygen.

VITRIOLIZABLE, a. Capable of being converted into sulphuric acid.

VITRIOLIZATION. [See Vitriolation.]

VITRIOLIZE. [See Vitriolate.]

VITRIOLIZED. [See Vitriolated.]

VITRIOLIZING, [See Vitriolating.]

VITULINE, a. [L. vitulinus.] Belonging to a calf, or to veal.

VITUPERABLE, a. [See Vituperate.]

Blameworthy; censurable. [Not used.]

VITUPERATE, v.t. [L. vitupero.] To blame; to censure. [Little used.]

VITUPERATION, n. [L. vituperatio.] Blame; censure. [Little used.]

VITUPERATIVE, a. Uttering or writing censure; containing censure.

VIVACIOUS, a. [L. vivax, from vivo, to live.]

1. Lively; active; sprightly in temper or conduct.

2. Long lived. [Not in use.]

3. Having vigorous powers of life; as vivacious plants.


1. Activity; liveliness; sprightliness of temper or behavior; vivacity.

2. Power of living; also, long life. [Not in use.]

VIVACITY, n. [L. vivacitas.]

1. Liveliness; sprightliness of temper or behavior; as a lady of great vivacity.

2. Air of life and activity; as vivacity of countenance.

3. Life; animation; spirits; as the vivacity of a discourse.

4. Power of living. [Not used.]

5. Longevity. [Not in use.]

VIVARY, n. [L. vivarium, from vivo, to live.]

A warren; a place for keeping living animals, as a pond, a park, etc.

Viva voce, [L.] by word of mouth; as, to vote viva voce.

VIVE, a. [L. vivus.] Lively; forcible. [Not in use.]

VIVELY, adv. In a lively manner. [Not used.]

VIVENCY, n. [L. vivens, from vivo.] Manner of supporting life or vegetation. [Not in use.]