eth·​i·​cal | \ ˈe-thi-kəl How to pronounce ethical (audio) \
variants: or less commonly ethic \ ˈe-​thik How to pronounce ethical (audio) \

Definition of ethical

1 : of or relating to ethics ethical theories
2 : involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval ethical judgments
3 : conforming to accepted standards of conduct ethical behavior
4 of a drug : restricted to sale only on a doctor's prescription

Other Words from ethical

ethicality \ ˌe-​thə-​ˈka-​lə-​tē How to pronounce ethical (audio) \ noun
ethically \ ˈe-​thi-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ethical (audio) \ adverb
ethicalness \ ˈe-​thi-​kəl-​nəs How to pronounce ethical (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for ethical

moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous, noble mean conforming to a standard of what is right and good. moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong. the basic moral values of a community ethical may suggest the involvement of more difficult or subtle questions of rightness, fairness, or equity. committed to the highest ethical principles virtuous implies moral excellence in character. not a religious person, but virtuous nevertheless righteous stresses guiltlessness or blamelessness and often suggests the sanctimonious. wished to be righteous before God and the world noble implies moral eminence and freedom from anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character. had the noblest of reasons for seeking office

Examples of ethical in a Sentence

Some doctors feel that this procedure is not medically ethical. the ethical behavior expected of every member of the police force
Recent Examples on the Web To top it all off, the company uses dry ozone technology instead of chemical bleach to treat its denim and is committed to ethical labor practices. Olivia O'bryon, Forbes, 8 May 2022 The crimes have shed light on City Hall’s lack of financial and ethical oversight at the DWP, an agency that Mayor Eric Garcetti vowed to reform when he was elected as mayor in 2013. Dakota Smith, Los Angeles Times, 25 Apr. 2022 Youth to the People is a brand that values natural ingredients and ethical business practices. Grooming Playbook, The Salt Lake Tribune, 5 Apr. 2022 These businesses incorporate ethical practices and prioritize people and the planet. Jennifer Chan,, 7 Mar. 2022 Because its mandate will cover a variety of issues—from business and social ones to financial and ethical risks—the members must come from diverse backgrounds, and some should be known for their unconventional viewpoints. Theodoros Evgeniou, Fortune, 4 Mar. 2022 But at a time when employees increasingly expect to have a say in everything from remote-work policies to their company’s ethical practices, trying to resist employee activism in any form is a losing proposition. Sarah Todd, Quartz, 28 Jan. 2022 That has spurred a patchwork of legal, financial and ethical standards among different states, institutions and doctors. Ariana Eunjung Cha, Anchorage Daily News, 19 Dec. 2021 The report detailed alleged financial and ethical lapses among the 87 members of its voting body and revealed that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association had no Black members. Bryan Alexander, USA TODAY, 13 Dec. 2021 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'ethical.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of ethical

circa 1573, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for ethical

Middle English etik, from Latin ethicus, from Greek ēthikos, from ēthos character — more at sib

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Time Traveler for ethical

Time Traveler

The first known use of ethical was circa 1573

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Dictionary Entries Near ethical



ethical dative

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Ethical.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 21 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for ethical


eth·​i·​cal | \ ˈe-thi-kəl How to pronounce ethical (audio) \

Kids Definition of ethical

1 : involving questions of right and wrong : relating to ethics ethical issues
2 : following accepted rules of behavior We expect ethical treatment of animals.


eth·​i·​cal | \ ˈeth-i-kəl How to pronounce ethical (audio) \
variants: also ethic \ -​ik How to pronounce ethical (audio) \

Medical Definition of ethical

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct
2 of a drug : restricted to sale only on a doctor's prescription

Other Words from ethical

ethically \ ˈeth-​i-​k(ə-​)lē How to pronounce ethical (audio) \ adverb



Medical Definition of ethical (Entry 2 of 2)

: an ethical drug


eth·​i·​cal | \ ˈe-thi-kəl How to pronounce ethical (audio) \

Legal Definition of ethical

1 : of or relating to ethics
2 : conforming to accepted professional standards of conduct

Other Words from ethical

ethically adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on ethical

Nglish: Translation of ethical for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of ethical for Arabic Speakers


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