• Knowledge of or expertise in the fine arts.
  • (Literary) The good qualities inherent in a person or thing.

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Example Sentences

“Callie was known for the breadth of her virtu, ranging from opera to pop art installations.”

“The screenwriter imbued her characters with virtu to make them endearing to the audience.”

“The fashion designer’s virtu extended beyond the runway, evident by his taste in home decor.”

Word Origin

Italian, early 18th century

Why this word?

Drop the “e” from “virtue” and we have this noun that specifies a personal quality of knowledge of the arts. “Virtu” was borrowed from the Italian “virtù,” which originated from the Latin “virtutem,” meaning “virtue, goodness, manliness.” It was adopted during a period of history when European habits and traditions, particularly those of Italian origin, were considered the height of culture around the world. Having virtu equates to an expertise in the fine arts, and “virtuoso” means a “person highly skilled in music or another artistic pursuit.” Pianist Frédéric Chopin, singer Whitney Houston, and painter Vincent Van Gogh could all be considered some of the most famous virtuosos in history.

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