[ vur-choo-uhl ]
See synonyms for: virtualvirtuality on

  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.

    • (of an image, such as one in a mirror) formed by the apparent convergence of rays that are prolonged geometrically, but not actually (opposed to real).

    • being a focus of a system forming such images.

  1. 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.

  2. Computers.

    • (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.

    • 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.

Origin of virtual

First recorded in 1350–1400; Middle English, from Medieval Latin virtuālis, from Latin virtu(s) “maleness, worth” (see virtue) + -ālis -al1

Other words from virtual

  • vir·tu·al·i·ty [vur-choo-al-i-tee], /ˌvɜr tʃuˈæl ɪ ti/, noun

Words Nearby virtual Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use virtual in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for virtual


/ (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

  1. computing of or relating to virtual storage: virtual memory

  2. 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

  3. rare capable of producing an effect through inherent power or virtue

  4. physics designating or relating to a particle exchanged between other particles that are interacting by a field of force: a virtual photon See also exchange force

Origin of virtual

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

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