What is the MEANING of VIRTUAL?



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What is the MEANING of VIRTUAL?

Slide 1:
What is the Definition of VIRTUAL?

Slide 2:
In everyday English, the word virtual is synonymous with ‘almost’ or ‘nearly’.

For example . . .

Slide 3:
Due to the bad weather, the traffic came to a virtual standstill.

Meaning: the traffic had almost stopped moving

Slide 4:
Virtual in the Computing Environment

From around 1959, the word “virtual” took on a special meaning in the world of computer technology. It refers to something that does not physically exist but appears to exist through computer software.

Here are two common phrases:

  • Virtual Memory
  • Virtual Reality

Slide 5:
What is Virtual Memory?

A computer’s memory can be greatly enlarged, beyond the capacity of physical memory blocks, by making virtual locations appear to be actual ones.

Here are physical memory blocks:

Slide 6:
If the physical memory blocks become full, data can be temporarily transferred to the hard disk to a space call a paging file. This is Virtual Memory.

This frees space in physical memory to complete urgent tasks and after, the data from the hard disk (Virtual Memory) can be moved back again to the physical memory blocks.

Slide 7:
What Is Virtual Reality?

This phrase came into use around 1989. It refers to an environment generated by a computer, which looks as if it is real, and allows the user to interact with it. Computer games employ this technology but it also has uses beyond the world of entertainment.

For example, fire departments can use virtual reality to train fireman to experience the conditions inside a burning building or show how a fire can develop.

Slide 8:
One more example . . .

In October, 2016, Sony released the Virtual Reality Headset which was designed to work with the PlayStation 4 home video game console.

Slide 9:
So remember, when the word “virtual” is used in the computer environment, it refers to something that doesn’t physically exist, but appears to!

Slide 10:
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  • Obsolete
  • Sporadic
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Go to: http://goodenglish.online


Here are some examples of how the term “virtual” has been used to give a better understanding of the meaning of virtual:

“I haven’t run out of memory in more than a decade, ever since virtual memory appeared in Windows 386 (1989).”
Web source: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/fog0000000020.html

“Since Virtual Memory is stored on the hard drive, it is significantly slower than RAM; therefore, virtual memory usage should be avoided whenever possible. ”
Web source: http://www.infopackets.com/news/hardware/2005/20050520_why_does_windows_constantly_report_virtual_memory_low.htm

“Just had my first glimpse of the BBC’s new virtual reality weather graphics. They finally get away from those arbitrary weather regions of which the sun and the clouds were never aware.”
Web source: http://goinguphill.blogspot.com/2005/05/two-faced-turncoat.html

Here are two more examples of “virtual” being used outside the computer context:

“The majority of aid organisations have already stopped operating in southern districts such as Kandahar and Zabul, both Taliban strongholds. Eastern provinces near the Pakistan border have also become virtual no-go areas.”
Web source: http://weekly.ahram.org.eg/2005/758/in2.htm

“Despite our successes at the Oxford Intervarsity, my team didn’t reach the octo-finals, which was a bit disappointing. In some ways rather more disappointing was the virtual absence of alcohol from the tournament.”
Web source: http://reallyquiteunlikely.blogspot.com/2004/01/chinatown-markets-singapore.html

So remember the definition and meaning of VIRTUAL.

It can be used regarding computer operations, the video and entertainment world, and also to describe anything that is not actually so but appears to be, or something that is almost, nearly something else.

If you are interested in new words which have been added to the English language in recent decades, be sure to check this page:

If you are interested in new words which have come into English in recent years, be sure to check this page:
What is the Definition of STRETCH LIMO?

Image Credits:

Slide 1 & 8 – girl using virtual reality
Creative Commons

Slide 3 – traffic standstill|
Creative Commons

Slide 4 – technology circle
Free Use
lekkyjustdoit | FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Slide 5, 6 – memory blocks
Creative Commons

Slide 6 – hard disk
Creative Commons

Slide 9
Creative Commons
virtual reality
circuit board


Creative Commons License: