[vir-uhl or, esp. British, -ahyl]
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  1. of, pertaining to, characteristic of, or befitting a man; masculine; manly: virile strength.
  2. having or exhibiting masculine energy, forcefulness, or strength in a marked degree.
  3. characterized by a vigorous, masculine spirit: a virile literary style.
  4. of, relating to, or capable of procreation.

Origin of virile

1480–90; < Latin virīlis manly, equivalent to vir man (akin to Old English wer man; see werewolf) + -īlis -ile
Related formsnon·vir·ile, adjectivesub·vir·ile, adjectiveul·tra·vir·ile, adjectiveun·vir·ile, adjective
Can be confusedviral virile

Synonyms for virile

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2. vigorous. See male. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for virile

Contemporary Examples of virile

Historical Examples of virile

British Dictionary definitions for virile


  1. of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an adult male
  2. (of a male) possessing high sexual drive and capacity for sexual intercourse
  3. of or capable of copulation or procreation
  4. strong, forceful, or vigorous
Derived Formsvirility (vɪˈrɪlɪtɪ), noun

Word Origin for virile

C15: from Latin virīlis manly, from vir a man; related to Old English wer man and probably to Latin vis strength
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 virile

late 15c., from Old French viril, from Latin virilis "of a man, manly," from vir "a man, a hero," from PIE *uiHro "freeman" (cf. Sanskrit virah, Avestan vira-, Lithuanian vyras, Lithuanian vyras, Old Irish fer, Welsh gwr, Gothic wair, Old English wer "man"). Virile member for "penis" is recorded from 1540s.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

virile in Medicine


[vîrəl, -īl′]
  1. Of, relating to, or having the characteristics of an adult male, especially the ability to perform sexually as a male.
  2. Having or showing masculine spirit, strength, vigor, or power.
  3. Sexually potent.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.