AskDefine | Define virility

Dictionary Definition



1 the property of being capable of copulation and procreation
2 the trait of being manly; having the characteristics of an adult male [syn: manfulness, manliness]

User Contributed Dictionary



From virīlitās


  • , /vəˈrɪlɪti/, /v@"rIlIti/


  1. The state of being virile
  2. Manly character
  3. The ability to procreate



Related terms


the state of being virile

Extensive Definition

Virility refers to any of a wide range of masculine characteristics viewed positively. It is not applicable to women or to negative characteristics. The Oxford English Dictionary (OED1) says virile is "marked by strength or force." Virility is commonly associated with vigour, health, sturdiness, and constitution, especially in the fathering of children. In this last sense, virility is to men as fertility is to women. OED1 also notes an obsolete use of virile in this sense for a "nubile" young woman — "a maide that is Mariageable or ripe for a Husband, or Virill."
The word itself is derived from the Latin word vir meaning simply "man" (in a gender specific sense). The German for "virility" is Manneskraft — the strength of a man. Historically, masculine attributes such as beard growth have been seen as signs of virility and leadership (for example in ancient Egypt and Rome).
As a term for positive reference, virility does not accord with feminisms that put forward various deconstructions of masculinity. According to these points of view, virility is redefined as an outdated abstraction, impacting negatively on women via unwanted sexual activity, and unwanted pregnancies.

Compare with



virility in German: Manneskraft

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

adulthood, adultness, age of consent, amperage, armipotence, authority, beef, black power, brute force, charge, charisma, clout, cogence, cogency, compulsion, dint, drive, driving age, duress, effect, effectiveness, effectuality, energy, flower of age, flower power, force, force majeure, forcefulness, full age, full blast, full bloom, full force, full growth, fullgrownness, grown-upness, influence, legal age, legalis homo, machismo, main force, main strength, majority, mana, manhood, manlihood, manly vigor, mature age, maturity, might, might and main, mightiness, moxie, muscle power, pizzazz, poop, potence, potency, potentiality, power, power pack, power structure, power struggle, powerfulness, prepotency, prime, prime of life, productiveness, productivity, puissance, pull, punch, push, ripe age, riper years, sexual power, sinew, steam, strength, strong arm, superiority, superpower, toga virilis, ultramasculinity, validity, vehemence, vigor, vim, virileness, virtue, virulence, vitality, wattage, weight, womanhood, womanlihood, years of discretion
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