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To take a conspicuous but essentially useless action ostensibly to support a good cause but actually to show off how much more moral you are than everybody else.
Fred: I see George has changed his profile picture to show his support for refugees.
Barbara: Has he donated money or time? Is he giving English lessons? Is he making a room available?
Fred: No, no, he's just virtue signalling.
by Verboy March 18, 2016
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Advocating a political or philosophical position, and/or taking up a public cause, from a position of vanity, for the primary purpose of demonstrating your conformity with fashionable pop culture values.
Angela's sudden advocacy for the local pet shelter was mostly an exercise in public relations and virtue signalling. She had never much cared for dogs and cats before, but she instinctively understood teary-eyed public support for defenseless animals generally said something good about her as a person.
by Okie G.L. June 02, 2016
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Saying you love or hate something to show off what a virtuous person you are, instead of actually trying to fix the problem.
Jane: "Wow! I hate Fox News! They're so evil and they hate women!"
John: "Why don't you actually do something instead of just virtue signalling about it?"
Jane: "OMG that would be WAAAAAAY too much work" *goes back to shitposting on twitter*
by Juz16 January 04, 2016
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A scheming, disingenuous act of kindness and selflessness to show ones solidarity with a cause, such as volunteering for CAMHS, all to boost ones image and reputation, rather than to help the cause. It is commonly weaponised by politicians and used in debates to appease the majority.
Synonyms: I have no life, I'm a cuck, please give me attention, stop mansplaining
Antonyms: I'm smart, I'm sexy, I'm not a 28 year old living in his mother's basement, I've got a nice schlong
Examples of virtue signalling:
- Jeremy Corbyn introducing his pronouns during a speech on Pink News
- Simon Cowell allowing a mediocre comedian to progress to the finals of Britain's Got Talent because he was disabled
- 18 year old college students stating their obvious gender pronouns in their Instagram/Twitter bios
- Wokeness - wokeness is virtue signalling, and virtue signalling is wokeness
- Michelle Williams' irrelevant and unnecessary speech at the Golden Globe Awards
- Refuting the scientific reality of biological sex
via giphy
by bigboobies007 January 08, 2020
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A term that is far too often used to dismiss an opposing opinion that is based on morals, ethics, or ideals, when the introduction of such into a debate could critically undermine one's stance.
Waldon: "But you CAN'T flatten that building to build a Walmart! Not only is it an orphanage, but the roof is a rare bird sanctuary, it's built over a graveyard AND an aquifer, hosts the only local live music night in the city on Wednesdays, and is a legally protected heritage site!"

Developer: "Don't listen to that virtue signalling hippy, boys, start up them bulldozers, we got a permit!"
by Urban Savage March 17, 2017
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Trying to look virtuous because you more about appearances than action; for example:
1. when anyone puts a "SUPPORT OUR TROOPS" bumper sticker on their car
2. when republicans appoint members of minority groups to key positions to make their policies look less bigoted
3. when neocons, identitarians, and the alt-right use social justice rhetoric to make it look like they care about women's rights and gay rights but are just trying to advance regressive policies such as bans on entire religions, mass deporations, wars in the middle east, etc.
The right has been virtue signalling for as long as there have been genuine advocates of social justice; this is the reason Hitler appropriated the rhetoric of socialists, and why the modern alt-right appropriates the rhetoric of social justice activists.
by Valerie Morghulis May 03, 2017
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