moral

adjective
mor·​al | \ ˈmȯr-əl How to pronounce moral (audio) , ˈmär-\

Definition of moral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : of or relating to principles of right and wrong in behavior : ethical moral judgments
b : expressing or teaching a conception of right behavior a moral poem
c : conforming to a standard of right behavior took a moral position on the issue though it cost him the nomination
d : sanctioned by or operative on one's conscience or ethical judgment a moral obligation
e : capable of right and wrong action a moral agent
2 : probable though not proved : virtual a moral certainty
3 : perceptual or psychological rather than tangible or practical in nature or effect a moral victory moral support

moral

noun
mor·​al | \ ˈmȯr-əl How to pronounce moral (audio) , ˈmär-; sense 3 is mə-ˈral How to pronounce moral (audio) \

Definition of moral (Entry 2 of 2)

1a : the moral significance or practical lesson (as of a story) The moral of the story is to be satisfied with what you have.
b : a passage pointing out usually in conclusion the lesson to be drawn from a story

2 morals plural

a : moral practices or teachings : modes of conduct an authoritative code of morals has force and effect when it expresses the settled customs of a stable society— Walter Lippmann
b : ethics the science of morals endeavors to divide men into the good and the bad— J. W. Krutch
3 : morale The casualties did not shake the moral of the soldiers.

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Other Words from moral

Adjective

morally \ ˈmȯr-​ə-​lē How to pronounce morally (audio) , ˈmär-​ \ adverb

Choose the Right Synonym for moral

Adjective

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

Ethics vs Morals: Is there a difference?

Ethics and morals are both used in the plural and are often regarded as synonyms, but there is some distinction in how they are used.

Morals often describes one's particular values concerning what is right and what is wrong:

It would go against my morals to help you cheat on the test.

He appears to view himself as a kind of culture warrior, striking out against the crumbling morals of modern society.
Jonathan Goldsbie, Now Toronto, 16 Oct. 2014

While ethics can refer broadly to moral principles, one often sees it applied to questions of correct behavior within a relatively narrow area of activity:

Our class had a debate over the ethics of genetic testing.

Anybody, it seemed, could make the music -- if they couldn't play guitar, they could push a button -- and nobody worried about the ethics of appropriating riffs.
Jennifer Foote, Newsweek, 23 July 1990

In addition, morals usually connotes an element of subjective preference, while ethics tends to suggest aspects of universal fairness and the question of whether or not an action is responsible:

Perhaps you don’t like Kim Kardashian, or her family, or her morals don’t align with yours, or you just think it’s weird that she might have had some plastic surgery, likes to apply makeup in a really complicated way and named her kid “Saint.”
Sarah Boboltz, The Huffington Post, 12 Oct. 2016

The Frenches, both professors in The Media School, focused on the ethics of making medical decisions for a child who could not express her own wishes yet…
Chris Mura, Indiana Daily Student, 18 Oct. 2016

Examples of moral in a Sentence

Adjective

Nor did these lawyers and bankers walk about suffused with guilt. They had the moral equivalent of teflon on their soul. Church on Sunday, foreclose on Monday. — Norman Mailer, New York Review of Books, 27 Mar. 2002 … trip-wire sensitivity to perceived insult often leads to unjustifiable firings and other moral and legal imbroglios. — John McWhorter, New Republic, 14 Jan. 2002 The modern liberal state was premised on the notion that in the interests of political peace, government would not take sides among the differing moral claims made by religion and traditional culture. — Francis Fukuyama, Atlantic, May 1999 It was our desire for a moral world, the deep wish to assert the existence of goodness, that generated, as it continues to do, political fantasy. — Arthur Miller, Timebends, 1987 The author avoids making moral judgments. Each story teaches an important moral lesson. He felt that he had a moral obligation to help the poor. We're confident she has the moral fiber to make the right decision. Their behavior was not moral. Animals are not moral creatures and are not responsible for their actions.

Noun

The moral of the story is to be satisfied with what you have. The moral here is: pay attention to the warning lights in your car. Socrates was accused of corrupting the morals of the youth of Athens. The author points to recent cases of fraud as evidence of the lack of morals in the business world.
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Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective

Was this really all in my head? *** Some families might demonize liars, or tattletales, or people who fall down on some other moral imperative. Alyson Pomerantz, Longreads, "Anaphylaxis of the Mind," 3 Sep. 2019 By most accounts, May is moral, meticulous, and quietly religious. Washington Post, "Theresa May packs her bags, her legacy dominated by failure," 18 July 2019 At 82, Takei has evolved into an increasingly powerful voice for oppressed communities, and Enemy finds him at peak moral clarity — an unflinching force in these divisive times. Michael Cavna, Dallas News, "George Takei has talked about his family's internment before, but never quite like this," 16 July 2019 Wiik, who concluded his sophomore year with the Tigers, received the Jimmy Moses Award, recognizing the player who best represents the enduring spirit and moral character of a Tiger student-athlete on an off the court. Jack Marrion, Houston Chronicle, "Ogbonnia sets UCLA shot put record, wins gold at USATF U20 Championships," 1 July 2019 The question is whether any government gets to impose its views about what is moral and suppress those if finds distasteful. Jasmine Aguilera, Time, "Supreme Court Rules That 'Scandalous' and 'Immoral' Names Can Be Trademarked," 24 June 2019 But this quest for the moral high ground goes beyond integrity or free-speech rights. The Christian Science Monitor, "A global moment for the #MeToo movement," 19 June 2019 While the students’ high intelligence may be the main factor that sets them apart, the school is also dedicated to developing their students’ moral character. Jessica Levy, Indianapolis Star, "Sycamore School helps gifted children thrive," 7 June 2019 Each of us should be moral, rational, and follow the rules for the good of mankind. Dp Opinion, The Denver Post, "Letters: Eternal gratitude for D-Day vets; Stapleton’s legacy; A plea for civility (6/6/19)," 6 June 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

The mural of Washington’s life on a high school wall should encourage the school’s teachers to address its meaning to their students within the context of today’s morals. Letters To The Editor, The Mercury News, "Letter: Teachers should discuss mural’s meaning in class," 12 July 2019 Futurists celebrated the beauty of machines, the morals of might, and the syntax of babble. K.n.c., The Economist, "The radical politics of futurists and fascists—and us, here, today," 19 July 2019 Bell ultimately betrays his morals, bribes players to come to his school and then does battle with his demons. Tim Rohan, SI.com, "Western Union: A Blue Chips Oral History," 8 July 2019 Policing the morals' of Phoenix The coffeehouse raid wasn’t the only one of its kind in Phoenix. Kyra Haas, azcentral, "Phoenix's LGBTQ spaces faced raids 'policing morals' of city. The Stonewall riots helped change that," 28 June 2019 The morals of the story are wonderful — have faith in yourself and choose lover over fear. Patti Restivo, baltimoresun.com, "'Pip-Pip The Dragon' at Howard Community College delivers magic that is out of this world," 14 June 2019 While her morals urge her to bring the deceased to his rightful resting place, her survival instincts kick in, and Leigh tries to conceal the body in an attempt to save herself and her son from persecution. Joey Nolfi, EW.com, "Exclusive Blood on Her Name trailer previews grisly thrills for Fantasia Fest," 10 July 2019 This powerful shift in perception is unrelated to our intelligence, morals, or past behaviors. Robert Pearl, Vox, "Understanding the science of regrettable decisions," 23 July 2019 Marinetti rejected all the obvious sources of comfort that people might normally crave in a disrupted environment: coherence, harmony, freedom, received morals, and conventional language. K.n.c., The Economist, "The radical politics of futurists and fascists—and us, here, today," 19 July 2019

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

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First Known Use of moral

Adjective

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Noun

circa 1528, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for moral

Adjective and Noun

Middle English, from Anglo-French, from Latin moralis, from mor-, mos custom

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Statistics for moral

Last Updated

7 Sep 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for moral

The first known use of moral was in the 14th century

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More Definitions for moral

moral

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of moral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: concerning or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior
: based on what you think is right and good
: considered right and good by most people : agreeing with a standard of right behavior

moral

noun

English Language Learners Definition of moral (Entry 2 of 2)

: a lesson that is learned from a story or an experience
: proper ideas and beliefs about how to behave in a way that is considered right and good by most people

moral

adjective
mor·​al | \ ˈmȯr-əl How to pronounce moral (audio) \

Kids Definition of moral

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : concerned with or relating to what is right and wrong in human behavior moral problems a moral judgment
2 : able to teach a lesson of how people should behave a moral story
3 : good entry 1 sense 13, virtuous They lead a moral life.
4 : able to tell right from wrong Humans are moral beings.

Other Words from moral

morally adverb morally wrong behavior

moral

noun

Kids Definition of moral (Entry 2 of 2)

1 : the lesson to be learned from a story or experience
2 morals plural : ways of behaving : moral conduct They have a high standard of morals.
3 morals plural : teachings or rules of right behavior

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More from Merriam-Webster on moral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with moral

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for moral

Spanish Central: Translation of moral

Nglish: Translation of moral for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of moral for Arabic Speakers

Comments on moral

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