Virtus or Fortitudo?


New Member
Hi team,

wondering if someone could please clarify for me the difference between Virtus and Fortitudo?
I’m trying to find the appropriate word to use for “strength”- I’m a female physical therapist and rely both on “physical strength” (to massage/mobilise/move my clients) as well as looking to encompass “inner strength/ strength of resolve/strength of character”.
Any guidance or clarification would be greatly appreciated.
Thanks so much.


New Member
Virtus vs Fortitudo, and a few others...

Trigger Warning: ancient Roman attitudes were quite sexist by contemporary standards, thus the “virtues” of women require a different vocabulary, depending on the application. However, in contemporary Latin composition, I would apply these terms to any gender as you wish, or find appropriate and useful (some may disagree). Ironically, most of the nouns are feminine in gender.
This is not a comprehensive list, but a good start. Perhaps others will add on, extend, and/or clarify...

virtus, virtutis f. - Physical and mental strength combined in an man; an attributed of proper manhood; moral rectitude, virtue, bravery, inter alia.
fortitudo, -inis
f. - Bodily strength, physical power, muscular vigor; fortitude, resolution, bravery, courage, manly strength, inter alia.
vis, vis f. (defective morphology) - Strength, force, vigor, power, energy, virtue; (various military applications); mental strength, power, force, vigor; inter alia.
firmitas, -atis f. - Firmness, strength, vigor; stability, endurance, constancy; (mostly used to describe things, but metaphorical applied to human attributes). Sym. firmitudo, -inis f.
ops, opis f. - Power, strength, ability; means, wealth; aid, support, assistance.
robur, -oris n. - Oak wood; hardness, strength, firmness; vigor, physical strength, resistive power (often metaphorical applied to human attributes).

You might also find this adj. useful:
validus, -a, -um - Strong, stout, able, robust (v. supra), vigorous; well in the body, healthy.

Source: Lewis & Short, Oxf. Lat. Dict.


New Member
Thanks so much for your in-depth reply Bradicus! And the early disclaimer Is appreciated. :)
would you be so kind as to clarify the differences in “virtus“ And “virtutis f.” for us mere non-Latin mortals? Thank you.

Etaoin Shrdlu

It's the same word. A Latin word is commonly listed in a dictionary in the genitive case (virtutis) along with the nominative form (virtus). This is done because that information will tell you what further changes the word will undergo in the other cases (accusative, dative, ablative, locative). Which case is used in a given sentence depends on the grammar: whether the word is the subject of the verb, or direct or indirect object, for instance.

If you don't understand the concept of grammatical case, which is mostly lacking in modern English, it probably isn't worth trying to get your head round it unless you are trying to learn an inflected language. Just let it serve as a warning against taking words out of a dictionary and trying to put them together in a sentence, because you won't know what form of the word to use in a particular context.

Michael Zwingli

Active Member
Vigorous physical strength is valentia, no?
I’m trying to find the appropriate word to use for “strength”- I’m a female physical therapist and rely both on “physical strength” (to massage/mobilise/move my clients) as well as looking to encompass “inner strength/ strength of resolve/strength of character”.
To encompass all of that, sanitas (meaning both "soundness of body" and "soundness of mind") might do the trick (note that the meaning of Latin sānitās is not as narrow as that of its English descendant sanity).


Civis Illustris
Virtus has vir (vir, viri, 'man') in it. (In Greek, there's ἀνδρεία (andreía), which is much like virtus.)

I'd think that virgo would too (come with vir in it), but wikipedia (virgo#Latin Wiktionary) says that virgo comes from virga... :think: Does anyone know anything about the etymology of virgo?

Bradicus gave an interesting list there.
Fortitudo comes from fortis, -e, the adjective;
firmitas also comes from an adjective, firmis, -e.
Note that Ops is also the name of a goddess.

So, at the least, virtus comes from a noun (vir, '(human) male', 'man'), and fortitudo from an adjective (fortis, -e, 'strong', 'brave').
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Civis Illustris
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Devenius Dulenius

New Member
Keep in mind, however, that etymology does not always determine meaning; usage in a particular context does. Over time, words develop additional meanings and nuances (and in some cases, lose them). Often these meanings diverge partly or even totally from the etymological meanings. In Latin, as in other languages, unless a writer/speaker is trying to be clever or witty, or make some moral application, etymology is probably not in focus when making one's points.

Just my two denarii,

Devenius Dulenius


Staff member