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[ahr-i-tey] /ˌɑr ɪˈteɪ/
the aggregate of qualities, as valor and virtue, making up good character.
Origin of arete
From the Greek word aretḗ


[uh-reyt] /əˈreɪt/
noun, Physical Geography, Geology.
a sharp rugged mountain ridge, produced by glaciation.
1860-65; < French; Old French areste sharp ridge < Latin arista awn, ear of wheat Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for arete
Historical Examples
  • You will think that I am inventing, but I say that if kakia is right, then arete is also right.

    Cratylus Plato
  • But arete pleaded hard with her husband for Medeia, for her heart was softened.

    The Heroes Charles Kingsley
  • But for all that arete besought him, until she won him round.

    The Heroes Charles Kingsley
  • arete, daughter of Aristippus, continued the latter's teachings after his death.

    Greek Women Mitchell Carroll
  • arete was also learned in natural history and in other branches of science.

    Greek Women Mitchell Carroll
  • From what is said of arete, what can you tell of the influence of the Greek women?

  • Her name is arete, and she comes of the same family as her husband Alcinous.

    The Odyssey Homer
  • But for all that, arete besought him, until she won him round.

  • There she advised that he should seek the Queen, arete, whom he would find at that hour busied with her weaving.

  • In the course of time Ulysses comes to a pause in his narrative and Queen arete makes a little speech.

British Dictionary definitions for arete


/əˈreɪt; əˈrɛt/
a sharp ridge separating two cirques or glacial valleys in mountainous regions
Word Origin
C19: from French: fishbone, backbone (of a fish), ridge, sharp edge, from Latin arista ear of corn, fishbone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for arete

"sharp crest of a mountain," 1862, from Swiss French arête, from Latin arista "ear of grain, the top of an ear," which probably is of Etruscan origin. The figure is of something jagged.


important concept in Greek philosophy, "virtue, excellence," especially of manly qualities; literally "that which is good." The comparative form is areion, the superlative is aristos (cf. aristocracy).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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arete in Science
A sharp, narrow ridge or spur commonly found above the snow line in mountainous areas that have been sculpted by glaciers. Arêtes form as the result of the continued backward erosion of adjoining cirques.
The American Heritage® Science Dictionary
Copyright © 2002. Published by Houghton Mifflin. All rights reserved.
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