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" [OED] young woman — "a maide that is Mariageable or ripe for a Husband, or Virill." [Hexham, "Manbaer", 1648.]

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). [harvnb|Schiebinger, Londa|1993.]

As a term for positive reference, "virility" does not accord with feminisms that put forward various deconstructions of masculinity. [Sheryl Plant, [ 'Deconstructing Masculinity',] "", updated 11 February 2006.] According to these points of view, "virility" is redefined as an outdated abstraction, impacting negatively on women via unwanted sexual activity, and unwanted pregnancies. [Gail Kligman, [ "The Politics of Duplicity: Controlling Reproduction in Ceausescu's Romania",] (University of California Press, 1998), p. 249.]

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Further reading

*Harvard reference
Surname1 = Schiebinger
Given1 = Londa
Year = 1993
Title = Nature's Body
Publisher = Beacon Press
Location = Boston, Massachusetts

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Virility — Vi*ril i*ty, n. [L. virilitas: cf. F. virilit[ e].] The quality or state of being virile; developed manhood; manliness; specif., the power of procreation; as, exhaustion. Virility of visage. Holland. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • virility — index strength Burton s Legal Thesaurus. William C. Burton. 2006 …   Law dictionary

  • virility — (n.) period of manhood, 1580s; see VIRILE (Cf. virile) + ITY (Cf. ity). Meaning manly strength is recorded from c.1600 …   Etymology dictionary

  • virility — [n] masculinity forceful, machismo, macho*, maleness, manhood, manliness, muscularity, potency, power, ruggedness, strength, vigor; concepts 371,372,408,648 …   New thesaurus

  • virility — vi|ril|i|ty [ vı rıləti ] noun uncount the strength and power that are considered typical qualities of a man, especially sexual energy: In many cultures, a beard is considered a sign of virility. virility symbol: His car is a red turbo charged… …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • virility — UK [vəˈrɪlətɪ] / US [vɪˈrɪlətɪ] noun [uncountable] the strength and power that are considered typical qualities of a man, especially sexual energy virility symbol: His car is a red turbo charged Porsche, the classic virility symbol …   English dictionary

  • virility — virile ► ADJECTIVE 1) (of a man) having strength, energy, and a strong sex drive. 2) vigorous, strong, and manly. DERIVATIVES virility noun. ORIGIN Latin virilis, from vir man …   English terms dictionary

  • virility — noun Date: 1586 the quality or state of being virile: a. manhood 3 b. manly vigor ; masculinity …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • virility — /veuh ril i tee/, n. 1. the state or quality of being virile; manly character, vigor, or spirit; masculinity. 2. the power of procreation. [1580 90; < L virilitas, equiv. to virili(s) VIRILE + tas TY2] * * * …   Universalium

  • virility — noun /vəˈrɪlɪti/ a) The state of being virile b) Manly character Syn: masculinity Ant: femininity See Also: virile …   Wiktionary

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