[ vur-choo-uh-lee ]
/ ˈvɜr tʃu ə li /
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for the most part; almost wholly; just about: He is virtually unknown.
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Origin of virtually

late Middle English word dating back to 1400–50; see origin at virtual, -ly


figuratively, literally, virtually
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does virtually mean?

Virtually most generally means in effect but 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.

Virtually is the adverb form of the adjective virtual, which 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. To render something virtually is to create a representation or simulation of it using a computer.

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).

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

Example: Virtually everyone agrees with the proposal—it has a 99.9% approval rating.

Where does virtually come from?

The first records of the word virtually 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 suffix -ly is used to create adverbs.

The word effectively can be used as a synonym of virtually in the same way as practically. Saying that something is virtually impossible means that in effect and for all practical purposes, it can’t be done, though it may technically be possible.

Recently, virtually has become more commonly used to describe experiencing something remotely via the internet, as in We plan to meet virtually using a video platform. Working virtually usually means the same thing as working remotely or working from home.

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What are some other forms related to virtually?

What are some synonyms for virtually?

What are some words that share a root or word element with virtually

What are some words that often get used in discussing virtually?

How is virtually used in real life?

Virtually can be used in a few different ways, but it’s most commonly used to mean “nearly” or “practically.”



Try using virtually!

Is virtually used correctly in the following sentence?

Virtually attending a concert is not nearly the same as being part of a live audience.

How to use virtually in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for virtually

/ (ˈvɜːtʃʊəlɪ) /

in effect though not in fact; practically; nearly
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