alteration of earlier rightuous, alteration of Middle English rightwise, rightwos, from Old English rihtwīs, from riht, noun, right + wīs wise
- Date: 1530
- 1 : acting in accord with divine or moral law : free from guilt or sin
- 2 a : morally right or justifiable <a righteous decision>
- 3 slang : genuine, excellent
- synonyms see moral
Righteousness (also called rectitude) is an important theological concept in monotheism. It is an attribute that implies that a person's actions are justified, and can have the connotation that the person has been "judged" or "reckoned" as leading a life that is pleasing to God. Righteousness is also used as an attribute for God. Psalm 2 speaks of one being shielded by God and receiving favor because of righteousness.
The English word righteous was coined by William Tyndale, who remodelled the word after an earlier word rihtwis, which would have yielded Modern English rightwise or rightways. He used it to translate the Hebrew root צדקים (TzDYQ), tzedek (see Melchizedek), which appears more than five hundred times in the Hebrew Bible, and the Greek word δικαιος (dikaios), which appears more than two hundred times in the New Testament.