View synonyms for virtual


[ vur-choo-uhl ]


  1. being as specified in power, force, or effect, though not actually or expressly such:

    One of the VPs was the virtual CEO of the company.

  2. Optics.
    1. (of an image, such as one in a mirror) formed by the apparent convergence of rays that are prolonged geometrically, but not actually ( real ).
    2. being a focus of a system forming such images.
  3. Digital Technology. real, but existing, seen, or happening online or on a digital screen, rather than in person or in the physical world:

    You can take a virtual tour of the museum before your visit.

    How do I become a virtual personal trainer?

    Some students struggle with virtual learning and need the support of a physical classroom.

  4. Computers.
    1. (of a computer, data storage device, operating system, etc.) simulated or extended by software, sometimes temporarily, in such a way as to function and appear to the user as a physical entity:

      You can create a virtual disk in RAM, or virtual storage on a hard disk.

    2. relating or belonging to virtual reality:

      The headset and controller allow users to do things like draw images and wave wands in the virtual world.

      Your swing determines the path of the ball and where it lands on the virtual golf course, just as if it were played on a real one.


/ ˈvɜːtʃʊəl /


  1. having the essence or effect but not the appearance or form of

    a virtual revolution

  2. physics being, relating to, or involving a virtual image

    a virtual focus

  3. computing of or relating to virtual storage

    virtual memory

  4. of or relating to a computer technique by which a person, wearing a headset or mask, has the experience of being in an environment created by the computer, and of interacting with and causing changes in it
  5. rare.
    capable of producing an effect through inherent power or virtue
  6. physics designating or relating to a particle exchanged between other particles that are interacting by a field of force See also exchange force

    a virtual photon

“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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Other Words From

  • vir·tu·al·i·ty [vur-choo-, al, -i-tee], noun
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Word History and Origins

Origin of virtual1

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Medieval Latin virtuālis, from Latin virtu(s) “maleness, worth” ( virtue ) + -ālis -al 1
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Word History and Origins

Origin of virtual1

C14: from Medieval Latin virtuālis effective, from Latin virtūs virtue
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Example Sentences

Biden’s schedule on Thursday also includes a call with Senate Democrats and a virtual Rosh Hashanah event.

When Alchemist Accelerator shifted its Demo Day to virtual earlier this year, Alchemist director and founder Ravi Belani told me it was a move he expected the team to stick with for some time.

Close out Disrupt on Friday with a live, virtual Cocktail Party on Run the World.

Explore and connect with more than 40 early-stage mobility startups exhibiting in our virtual expo.

Over the summer, the financial services company ran Fidelity Kids Camp, five weeks of virtual full-day summer activities for employees’ kids.

From Fortune

Amnesty International and Reporters Without Borders cannot be accessed without a virtual private network.

Just download the Virtual Joey App and you are ready to stream DISH service right to that screen.

Their new Virtual Joey app turns your existing PlayStation 3—and soon PS4—into its very own DVR.

The user is then transported into a 360-degree virtual world.

In a virtual world, it revives the relevance of authenticity.

Indeed, individual cases show a virtual lack of self-reliance.

The king, while fully acknowledging Clive's services, thought him guilty of "rapine," and disapproved of his virtual acquittal.

His empire thus consolidated, he would be virtual master of half the solid earth in the Eastern hemisphere.

Their virtual assertion of popular sovereignty was temporarily smothered by imported tyranny in the shape of Sir Edmund Andros.

All the American press is not founded upon this system of virtual blackmail.


Related Words

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More About Virtual

What does virtual mean?

Virtual is most generally used to describe something as being the same as something else in almost every way, except perhaps in name or some other minor, technical sense.

For example, describing a company as a virtual monopoly means it’s pretty much a monopoly but not technically one, perhaps because it has a few minor competitors.

Virtual also commonly means simulated or extended by computer software. The word is used this way in virtual reality, which refers to a fully simulated environment. Some things described as virtual may not be quite as immersive as virtual reality, such as a virtual museum tour that you can navigate on a website.

Sometimes, things described as virtual may not involve simulation at all, such as a virtual meeting or a virtual concert. The use of virtual in these phrases represents a more recent sense of the word that means something like “remote and via the internet” (especially when accessed via a live video feed).

The adverb form virtually can be used in the same way, as in I can’t make it into the office, but I’ll be working virtually. 

Virtually is perhaps most commonly used in a more general way to mean in effect though not in fact, as in Today, virtually all cell phones are smartphones. Close synonyms are nearly, practically, and just about—they all mean virtually the same thing.

Example: The virtual convention will feature real speeches from virtually every VR expert in the industry.

Where does virtual come from?

The first records of the word virtual come from around 1400. It comes from the Medieval Latin virtuālis, meaning “effective” (in the sense of having the effect of something without the form or appearance of it).

The various senses of virtual are quite different, but they all involve something that’s not quite the real thing. Most generally, virtual is used to describe things as almost identical to but not exactly something else. The adverb virtually is perhaps most commonly used to describe things in this way.

The more specific use of virtual often involves computer simulations, as in virtual reality and virtual rendering. More recently, virtual has come to be used to describe things that aren’t simulations but real things that can be experienced in a remote location in some way, often via a live video feed.

This is how virtual is most commonly used in the term virtual school, which refers to an educational program that takes place in a virtual environment. Though it usually takes place on a computer screen, virtual school can take different forms. It may consist of a conventional classroom scenario simply moved online in the form of a live, two-way video stream in which a teacher and their students can interact in real time. It can also consist of a less interactive model, in which students can access educational materials through a computer interface, often with occasional communication with an instructor. Or it can be a blend of these approaches. Virtual school can also refer to a specific school that provides instruction using such programs, as in My daughter attends a virtual school.

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How is virtual used in real life?

Virtual can be used in several ways, but all of them describe something that’s not quite the real thing.




Try using virtual!

Is virtual used correctly in the following sentence?

I find that virtual concerts don’t have the same energy as a show with a live audience.




virtuvirtual assistant