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 formsright·eous·ly, adverbo·ver·right·eous, adjectiveo·ver·right·eous·ly, adverbo·ver·right·eous·ness, nounpre·right·eous, adjectivepre·right·eous·ly, adverbpre·right·eous·ness, nounqua·si-right·eous, adjectivequa·si-right·eous·ly, adverbsu·per·right·eous, adjectivesu·per·right·eous·ly, adverbsu·per·right·eous·ness, noun
Can be confusedright righteous rightful (see usage note at right)

Synonyms for righteous

Antonyms for righteous

Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

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British Dictionary definitions for righteous



  1. characterized by, proceeding from, or in accordance with accepted standards of morality, justice, or uprightness; virtuousa righteous man
  2. (as collective noun; preceded by the)the righteous
morally justifiable or right, esp from one's own point of viewrighteous indignation
Derived Formsrighteously, adverbrighteousness, noun

Word Origin for righteous

Old English rīhtwīs, from right + wise ²
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 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