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[rahy-chuh s] /ˈraɪ tʃəs/
characterized by uprightness or morality:
a righteous observance of the law.
morally right or justifiable:
righteous indignation.
acting in an upright, moral way; virtuous:
a righteous and godly person.
Slang. absolutely genuine or wonderful:
some righteous playing by a jazz great.
the righteous, (used with a plural verb) righteous persons collectively.
Origin of righteous
before 900; earlier rightwos, rightwis (remodeled with -ous), Middle English; Old English rihtwīs. See right, wise2
Related forms
righteously, adverb
overrighteous, adjective
overrighteously, adverb
overrighteousness, noun
prerighteous, adjective
prerighteously, adverb
prerighteousness, noun
quasi-righteous, adjective
quasi-righteously, adverb
superrighteous, adjective
superrighteously, adverb
superrighteousness, noun
Can be confused
right, righteous, rightful (see usage note at right)
3. good, honest, fair, right.
3. evil, wicked. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for righteous
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Let me die the death of the righteous, and let my last end be like his!

  • She seemed to be holding to it in the face of righteous judgment.

    Tiverton Tales Alice Brown
  • But mind, my most righteous and well-beloved, I will have no flattery.

    Vivian Grey Earl of Beaconsfield, Benjamin Disraeli
  • We all have our righteous secrets, and should all respect the righteous secrets of others.

    A Spirit in Prison Robert Hichens
  • God says, all the horns of the wicked will be cut off, but the horns of the righteous will be exalted.

British Dictionary definitions for righteous


  1. characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness; virtuous: a righteous man
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the): the righteous
morally justifiable or right, esp from one's own point of view: righteous indignation
Derived Forms
righteously, adverb
righteousness, noun
Word Origin
Old English rīhtwīs, from right + wise²
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 righteous

early 16c. alteration of rightwise, from Old English rihtwis, from riht (see right) + wis "wise, way, manner" (see wise (adj.)). Suffix altered by influence of courteous, etc. Meaning "genuine, excellent" is 1942 in jazz slang. Related: Righteously.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for righteous



Excellent; genuine; the GREATEST: what we used to call the righteous jazz/ ''Is that righteous gold?'' ''Righteous it ain't, but gold it is'' (1900+ Jazz musicians)

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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