What Does By Virtue of Mean?

By Virtue of Meaning

Definition: Because of something.

To say by virtue of is another way of saying because. Something that happens by virtue of something else is happening as a result of the first thing.

This is one of many English idioms used to demonstrate cause-and-effect relationships.

Out of the many idioms used for this, by virtue of is perhaps the most formal. It would most often be used when describing laws, regulations, or official events.

Origin of By Virtue of Something

by virtue of definitionThe word virtue has many meanings. It can mean moral, upstanding, righteousness, or chastity. While these are the most common meanings, virtue may refer now to any quality that is positive or desired in someone else.

Therefore, the word virtue often describes people with high moral standing. This is why the phrase by virtue of is used for formal descriptions. It often refers to something or someone with high legal authority, moral uprightness, or leadership over others.

Examples of By Virtue of Something

by virtue of the factBy virtue of their youth, they will not be able to run for the presidency. Such a phrase describes how in the very formal event of running for the presidency, people who have not reached a certain age will not be able to run for the office.

Someone else may say,

  • By virtue of Mr. Smith’s accomplishments, it is almost certain that he will win the presidency!

This person is describing how Mr. Smith’s accomplishments make him likely to be voted into office by people who respect his achievements.

You may also use this phrase in the middle of a sentence rather than at the beginning. One may say that,

  • She is likely to avoid jail time by virtue of her connections with the police.

This person means that her connections will cause her to avoid trouble.

More Examples

  • Since the dramatic downturn in oil prices, Houston has avoided slipping into a recession by virtue of its diversifying economy, led by the largest medical center in the world. –Houston Chronicle
  • He depends on his team’s leadership group to set the off-ice standard, but he — by virtue of commands delivered in his high-pitched voice — is very much in command from behind the bench. –New York Post


The phrase by virtue of means “because.”