Middle English Dictionary Entry

vertū n.
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Entry Info

Definitions (Senses and Subsenses)

Physical strength, power; force, energy; also, vigor; also, stamina; ~ of bering (child-beringe), the strength to give birth.
Physical ability or skill; an unusual ability, a talent; proficiency, skill; also, an area of expertise.
(a) Bodily strength or vigor; vitality; also, bodily health; also, the source of strength for a bodily process; bi ~, in natural strength, naturally; the kinde ~ of lif, the force necessary for maintaining the life of the body, vital force; (b) the quickening power of a flower or root; also fig.; the life-sustaining force within a plant; the vegetative power of nature; also, the fruit of a plant [quot. c1384]; ~ of gendringe (gendrure), the reproductive power; ~ of norishinge, the inherent nutritive value within a plant; ~ seminatife, the reproductive moisture in plants; vegetatif ~ [see vegetatif adj. (a)].
(a) A particular mental faculty or power of the soul necessary for thought, imagination, etc.; a power of the brain having the potential to direct and control physical functions; also, the force or power which causes the functioning of the brain [1st quot.]; (b) in combs.: ~ animal, animal (besteli) ~, the power that produces and controls movement and perception [see animal adj. 1.]; ~ cogitatif (racionale, regitif, resonable), resonable ~, the faculty of reason [see also racionale adj., regitif adj., resonable adj.(2) 1.(b)]; ~ estimatif, estimatif ~, one of the five inward senses, intuition, instinct [see also estimatif adj.]; ~ imaginatif (imaginarie), the imaginative faculty [see imaginatif adj. & n. 1., 4.]; ~ material (natural), the power of the soul that controls the working of the senses [see also natural adj. 4.(a)]; ~ motif, ~ of mevinge (stiringe), mevable ~, the power governing movement [see motif adj. (a)]; ~ of affeccioun (desir), the power concerned with emotion and volition; ~ of avisement, the power of reflection and forethought; ~ of felinge, felinge (sensitif) ~, the power of sensory perception [see also sensitif adj. 1.(b), 2.(a)]; ~ of governaunce, self-control; ~ of heringe, the auditory power; ~ of minde, ~ servative, memoratif ~, the power of memory [see memoratif adj. (a)]; ~ of (the) sight, visible ~, the power of sight; also fig.; ~ of smellinge, the power of smell; knouingal vertues, the powers employed by the reason; prive vertues, the powers employed solely within the body.
Physiol. (a) A physical faculty or power which causes functioning of the body, a part of the body, or a bodily process; bok of natural ~, Galen’s Liber de Virtutibus; (b) in phrases and combs.: ~ alteratif, alteratif ~, the natural faculty of altering quality in the body [see also alteratif adj. (b)]; ~ assimilatif [see assimilatif adj.]; ~ attractif, attractif ~, the power of an organism to ingest nutriment [see also attractif adj. 2.]; ~ congregatif, ~ of drauinge, ~ that draueth, drauinge ~, the physical faculty which draws humors, noxious substances, etc. from one part of the body to another; ~ digestif (of digestioun, of ripinge), digestif ~, the capacity of bodily organs for transforming and metabolizing human nutriment [see also digestif adj. 1.(b), digestioun n. 4.(c)]; ~ informatif, the inherent bodily power which shapes the parts of the human body [see also informatif n.]; ~ laxatif, ~ of outputtinge, ~ that casteth oute, expulsif (expulsik) ~, the natural faculty of expelling from the body the residuum of digestion and other toxic or superfluous matter; ~ natural, the life-sustaining force within a part of the human body; ~ nutritif, nutritif ~, norishinge ~, the faculty which provides and maintains nourishment for the proper well-being of an organism or a part of the human body [see also nutritif adj. (a)]; ~ of comfortinge, the bodily power or force which brings about alleviation; ~ of depinge (perfundacioun), the bodily faculty or power which allows penetration of substances into body tissues; ~ of formacioun, a force within the body which aids in controlling reproduction and in determining the forms of various organs; ~ of kinde appetite, the inherent urge in organs which draws proper nutriment (one of the Galenic faculties); ~ of neshinge, the bodily power which causes softening or dissipation of substances; ~ of openinge, the bodily power or faculty which causes dilation of veins; ~ of spredinge, the bodily force which disperses matter; ~ of stoppinge, the physical force causing the obstruction or blockage of a bodily organ, duct, etc.; ~ redditive, yelding ~, the restoring power in an organism; ~ retentif, ~ of withholdinge, ~ that withholdeth, retentif ~, the bodily power of holding in and absorbing nutriment [see also retentif adj. (b)]; ~ sustentif, sustening ~, a life-engendering power inherent in a particular part of the human body; feding (passitive) ~, the digestive power of the human body; livi ~, a physiological force needed to sustain life.
Chiefly med.: (a) efficacious quality, medicinal potency; of gret ~; (b) a medicinal property; also fig.; a specific efficacious quality or restorative property; also, the antidotal power of an herb or a venom; (c) in phrases and collocations: ~ diaforetic, percing ~, the physical property of an herb to induce perspiration; ~ emplastik, the quality of viscosity; ~ fractif, the physical property of an herb which dissolves or breaks up a substance; ~ of bindinge, the power to cause congelation or constipation; ~ preparating, the physical property of a fruit which prepares a substance for digestion by a bodily organ; ~ urinatif (diuretica), the physical property of an herb which induces urination.
(a) The power to protect from harm, talismanic power; the power to effect magic; also, the power to confer a supernatural ability; also, an occult power; (b) a supernatural influence; the power to affect life on earth;—used of celestial bodies.
(a) An inherent quality of a substance which gives it power; also fig.; an intrinsic property of one of the four elements; ~ mineral; (b) the power whereby the person or thing to which that power is attached can affect conditions, status, etc.; bi (in, thurgh) ~ of, by the power of (sth.), as a consequence of, through; (c) in ~ of, because of (sb.), for the sake of; (d) in oaths and abjurations; bi the ~ of.
(a) Divine power, divine might; also in synecdoche [quot. a1425]; a supernatural or divine power; (b) divine power divinely invested in a person or thing; (c) an act or a manifestation of divine power, a miracle; (d) as epithet for a God or a deity.
(a) Sacramental grace, sanctifying grace; the spiritual benefit of sacramental grace or of a Christian virtue; also, sacramental power or efficacy; (b) a state of grace; pl. manifestations of a state of grace.
(a) Moral excellence, goodness, probity; also as a divine attribute; also person.; also in fig. context; (b) a moral principle, an ethical imperative; moral soundness, ethics; righteousness, morality; also, a righteous condition; ~ moral, moral ~, right thought and conduct, morality; also person.; (c) the moral impulse to do good; moral strength; the power of conscience; also, a worthy deed; also, coll. good deeds; (d) spiritual strength, strength of will, fortitude, endurance; (e) moral inspiration; moral efficacy; (f) in proverbs and prov. expressions.
(a) A specific moral quality; a particular moral virtue; also person.; also in fig. context; ~ of confidence (obedience, pacience, etc.); (b) in proverbs and prov. expressions.
Pl. In catalogs of certain types of moral virtues: (a) the three theological virtues, faith, hope, and love; vertues theologice; (b) the four cardinal virtues, prudence, justice, temperance, and fortitude; also in fig. context; vertues cardinal(es, the (four) cardinal vertues, etc.; (c) the seven moral virtues;—often comprised of the three theological virtues and the four cardinal virtues; also in fig. context; the seven vertues.
(a) Nobility of character, manliness, valor; a quality befitting a noble or knight; a chivalric quality; the moral rectitude appropriate to a ruler; royal generosity; (b) an act of valor.
(a) Legal power, authority; also, validity; bi (thurgh) ~ of, by the power or authority invested in (sb. or sth.); (b) supremacy; also, might, dominion; also, that which gives force (to sth.) [2nd quot.].
(a) Value, worth [sometimes difficult to distinguish from sense 7.(a), to which some quots. may belong]; (b) significance, import.
(a) Effectiveness; in ~, effectively; taken ~, to take effect; (b) actuality.
An army, a fighting force, host; also, military power, martial force; pl. troops.
Theol. The seventh order of angels in the celestial hierarchy, the Virtues;—usu. pl.; also, an unspecified order of angels; also, a celestial power; ~ of hevenes, vertues of hevene(s, the entire celestial hierarchy; heavenly powers.

Supplemental Materials (draft)

  • a1500(a1450) Ashmole SSecr.(Ashm 396)73/20-21 : The vertue intellectif and denunciatif of figures or likenesse, other of interpretacion of all sensible, gouerneth hym to 20 yeres.
  • Note: Needed for combinations in sense 4.(b): ~ intellective, the faculty of the intellect, understanding; for gloss for ~ denuntiatif, see MED renunciatif adj.: ?Capable of envisaging in the mind; ?capable of renouncing temptations.--per MLL
    Note: [Lambeth: he ressayues a stryngthe of vndirstandynge þat ys renunciatyf of ffygures and semblance & of temptacions sensibles.]