From mid-14c. in English as "having beneficial or efficacious properties;" late 14c. (of persons) as "having excellent moral qualities; conforming to religious law." Related: Virtuously; virtuousness.
c. 1200, vertu, "moral life and conduct; a particular moral excellence," from Anglo-French and Old French vertu "force, strength, vigor; moral strength; qualities, abilities" (10c. in Old French), from Latin virtutem (nominative virtus) "moral strength, high character, goodness; manliness; valor, bravery, courage (in war); excellence, worth," from vir "man" (from PIE root *wi-ro- "man").
For my part I honour with the name of virtue the habit of acting in a way troublesome to oneself and useful to others. [Stendhal "de l'Amour," 1822]
Especially (in women) "chastity, sexual purity" from 1590s. Phrase by virtue of (early 13c.) preserves alternative Middle English sense of "efficacy." Wyclif Bible has virtue where KJV uses power. The seven cardinal virtues (early 14c.) were divided into the natural (justice, prudence, temperance, fortitude) and the theological (hope, faith, charity). To make a virtue of a necessity (late 14c.) translates Latin facere de necessitate virtutem [Jerome].
c. 1300, corage, "heart (as the seat of emotions)," hence "spirit, temperament, state or frame of mind,"from Old French corage "heart, innermost feelings; temper" (12c., Modern French courage), from Vulgar Latin *coraticum (source of Italian coraggio, Spanish coraje), from Latin cor "heart" (from PIE root *kerd- "heart").
Meaning "valor, quality of mind which enables one to meet danger and trouble without fear" is from late 14c. In this sense Old English had ellen, which also meant "zeal, strength." Words for "heart" also commonly are metaphors for inner strength.
In Middle English, the word was used broadly for "what is in one's mind or thoughts," hence "bravery," but also "wrath, pride, confidence, lustiness," or any sort of inclination, and it was used in various phrases, such as bold corage "brave heart," careful corage "sad heart," fre corage "free will," wikked corage "evil heart."
The saddest thing in life is that the best thing in it should be courage. [Robert Frost]
late 13c., "a gift, a reward, a favor bestowed freely;" c. 1300, "goodness, virtue; beauty; ; excellence; knightly prowess, strength, valor, chivalry," early 14c., "a helpful act, an act of generosity, a good deed," also "liberality in giving, generosity, munificence," from Anglo-French bountee, Old French bonte "goodness" (12c., Modern French bonté), from Latin bonitatem (nominative bonitas) "goodness," from bonus "good" (see bonus).
Sense of "gift bestowed by a sovereign or the state" led to extended senses of "premium or gratuity to a military recruit" (1702) and "reward for killing or taking a criminal or enemy" (1764) or dangerous animal (1847). Bounty-jumper "one who enlists in the military, collects the bounty, and flees without reporting for duty" is from the American Civil War (by 1864). Bounty-hunter is from 1893, American English, originally in reference to wild animals.
I do ... promise, that there shall be paid ... the following several and respective premiums and Bounties for the prisoners and Scalps of the Enemy Indians that shall be taken or killed .... ["Papers of the Governor of Pennsylvania," 1764]