the aggregate of qualities, as valor and virtue, making up good character.

Origin of arete

From the Greek word aretḗ



noun Physical Geography, Geology.

a sharp rugged mountain ridge, produced by glaciation.

Origin of arête

1860–65; < French; Old French areste sharp ridge < Latin arista awn, ear of wheat Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Related Words for arete

crest, crag

Examples from the Web for arete

Historical Examples of arete

  • You will think that I am inventing, but I say that if kakia is right, then arete is also right.

  • 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 was also learned in natural history and in other branches of science.

    Greek Women

    Mitchell Carroll

  • Arete, daughter of Aristippus, continued the latter's teachings after his death.

    Greek Women

    Mitchell Carroll

British Dictionary definitions for arete



a sharp ridge separating two cirques or glacial valleys in mountainous regions

Word Origin for arête

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

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

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 © 2011. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.