Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Existing or resulting in essence or effect though not in actual fact, form, or name: the virtual extinction of the buffalo.
  • adj. Existing in the mind, especially as a product of the imagination. Used in literary criticism of a text.
  • adj. Computer Science Created, simulated, or carried on by means of a computer or computer network: virtual conversations in a chatroom.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. In effect or essence, if not in fact or reality; imitated, simulated.
  • adj. Nearly, almost. (A relatively recent corruption of meaning, attributed to misuse in advertising and media.)
  • adj. Of something that is simulated in a computer or on-line.
  • adj. In object-oriented programming, capable of being overridden with a different implementation in a subclass.
  • adj. Related to technology.
  • n. In C++, a virtual member function of a class.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Having the power of acting or of invisible efficacy without the agency of the material or sensible part; potential; energizing.
  • adj. Being in essence or effect, not in fact.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • In electricity, in alternating currents, effective: said of the value which is to be used in computing energy or power relations of a current.
  • In synchronous alternating-current machines, the induced electromotive force corresponding to the resultant of the magnetomotive forces of field-flux and armature-flux.
  • Existing in effect, power, or virtue, but not actually: opposed to real, actual, formal, immediate, literal.
  • Pertaining to a real force or virtue; potential.
  • In mech., as usually understood, possible and infinitesimal: but this meaning seems to have arisen from a misunderstanding of the original phrase virtual velocity, first used by John Bernoulli, January 26th, 1717, which was not clearly defined as a volocity at all, but rather as an infinitesimal displacement of the point of application of a force resolved in the direction of that force.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. existing in essence or effect though not in actual fact
  • adj. being actually such in almost every respect

Etymologies

Middle English virtuall, effective, from Medieval Latin virtuālis, from Latin virtūs, excellence; see virtue.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin virtuālis, from virtus ("virtue"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • * @virtual [optional] - whether a virtual directory function destroyDir ($dir, $virtual = false) $ds = DIRECTORY_SEPARATOR;

    doggdot.us

  • Your fundamental assumption, which recurs throughout the paper, is that the person who is willing to pay the most for a piece of virtual "property" in the *actual* world is the person who will use it the most efficiently in the *virtual* world.

    Let the games begin!

  • For instance, search the term virtual sales training and you will see I hold 3 of the top 4 Google search positions and we didn't pay for clicks to obtain this position.

    Grant Cardone: Blogging for Rookies

  • The term virtual core means the Parallels hypervisor sees each HyperThread inside each quad-core Nehalem EP as a virtual core: each core in the high-end Xeon

    The Register

  • And even though they can actually function as a sort of consultant, the term virtual assistant is easier for people to understand.

    Philly.com - Latest Videos

  • While the term virtual machine thrown around a bit, it's important to make the distinction: Virtual PC creates a virtual machine on your computer, but Virtual PC is the software created by Microsoft to perform that task.

    Megite Technology News: What's Happening Right Now

  • Working online from locations around the globe they meet via video, audio and text on Skype, in what they call "virtual emergency operations centers" and carry out countless tasks critical to the rescue and response effort.

    Japan crisis showcases social media's muscle

  • In their place the company is establishing what it calls a "virtual" neuroscience unit, with a small group of 40 to 50 AstraZeneca employees forging research partnerships with academic groups and other scientists outside the company—an approach that allows for a "lower and more flexible cost base" and "access the best science available," R&D chief Martin Mackay said during the analyst presentation.

    AstraZeneca Plans to Cut 7,300 Jobs

  • Sococo , a Mountain View, Calif., firm offering technology to help workers collaborate in what it calls virtual office spaces, found no venture capitalists willing to fund the business so it raised $7 million from affluent individuals.

    For Silicon Valley Start-Ups, Funding Boom Is Lopsided

  • Today, 100 bloggers are conducting what they call a virtual protest to decry the large numbers of out-of-wedlock births in the black community.

    Activists Unite For 'No Wedding, No Womb'

Comments

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  • originally meant or allied "potential" as opposed to "actual": now is a virtual synonym of actual: a "180 degree turn" in meaning word

    September 10, 2007