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Alternative forms[edit]


From Middle English rightwisnes, from Old English rihtwīsnes (justice).


  • IPA(key): /ˈɹaɪt͡ʃəsnəs/
  • (file)


righteousness (countable and uncountable, plural righteousnesses)

  1. (uncountable) The quality or state of being righteous.
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter IV, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 45:
      But in these days of fanaticism, that harsh and violent spirit is abroad, when men clothe their own angry passions in the garb of righteousness, and call persecution vindicating the honour of God.
  2. (uncountable, theology) Holiness; conformity of life to the divine law.
    • 1611, The Holy Bible, [] (King James Version), London: [] Robert Barker, [], →OCLC, Amos 5:21–24:
      21 ¶ I hate, I despise your feast dayes, and I will not smell in your solemne assemblies.
      22 Though ye offer me burnt offerings, and your meat offerings, I will not accept them: neither will I regard the peace offerings of your fat beasts.
      23 Take thou away from mee the noise of thy songs: for I will not heare the melodie of thy violes.
      24 But let iudgement run downe as waters, and righteousnesse as a mightie streame.
    • 1922, Ben Travers, chapter 4, in A Cuckoo in the Nest:
      By some paradoxical evolution rancour and intolerance have been established in the vanguard of primitive Christianity. Mrs. Spoker, in common with many of the stricter disciples of righteousness, was as inclement in demeanour as she was cadaverous in aspect.
    Synonyms: rectitude, uprightness, holiness, godliness, equity, justice, rightfulness, integrity, honesty, faithfulness
  3. (countable, now rare) A righteous act or quality.
  4. The behaviour of someone who is righteous.
  5. (theology) The state of being right with God; justification; the work of Christ, which is the ground justification[1].

Derived terms[edit]