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 The moral of these stories is the same: Unbridled ambition is reckless and ruthless. Samantha Boardman, Marie Claire, "Is There Such a Thing as Too Much Ambition?," 8 Nov. 2019 While Age of Resistance is successful overall, there are moments when the show’s moral ambiguity meshes awkwardly with the original film’s archetypal heroes and villains. Geek's Guide To The Galaxy, WIRED, "The Dark Crystal Prequel Is Game of Thrones With Puppets," 21 Sep. 2019 It is combined with the moral and political logic of the post-war Labour government led by Clement Attlee. Daniel Fitzpatrick, Quartz, "Labour’s manifesto could transform British politics—even if it doesn’t win the election," 26 Nov. 2019 But many others chafe at Labour’s attempts to deflect criticism, and say arguing that the stakes are too high to send the party a message on anti-Semitism belittles a core moral obligation. Benjamin Mueller, New York Times, "At Odds With Labour, Britain’s Jews Are Feeling Politically Homeless," 21 Nov. 2019 Maryland became the second state to pass the bill in May. Model bills have even tried to mold the debate around some of today’s moral flash points. USA Today, "Puppies, phones and porn: How model legislation affects consumers’ lives," 20 Nov. 2019 Personal, religious, or moral biases against suicide or a strong fear of the topic can get in the way of coming at it from a place of compassion instead of judgment or alarm. Anna Borges, SELF, "9 Things All Parents Should Know About Teens and Suicide," 15 Nov. 2019 This type of public moral authority is not restricted to Iran but is endemic across the Middle East North Africa region. Fox News, "How Iran imposes strict adherence to Islamic law with severe, inhuman punishment," 2 Nov. 2019 If moral authority were electricity, that duo couldn’t recharge an iPhone. Kevin D. Williamson, National Review, "Bring Impeachment into the Light," 24 Oct. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The character has long been recognized for his strong morals and courage. CBS News, "Ed Harris, playing Atticus Finch, "didn't want to be influenced" by past "To Kill a Mockingbird" performances," 23 Nov. 2019 People expected players and coaches who had spoken up for other causes to speak out against the NBA’s apparent bending of its morals. Mike Finger, ExpressNews.com, "Commentary: In NBA’s China mess, Popovich toes a line," 8 Oct. 2019 Suitability findings can hinge on a background check and any other action deemed ‘‘inimical to the public health, safety, morals, good order and general welfare’’ of Nevada residents or discrediting of the state and its gambling industry. BostonGlobe.com, "WASHINGTON — Nevada gaming regulators are moving to ban Steve Wynn, the casino mogul and father of the modern Las Vegas Strip who’s been accused of a sexually harassing several of his employees.," 16 Oct. 2019 In the view of Burke and even Hamilton, impeachment could be a safeguard against unfit characters of bad public morals. Dan Mclaughlin, National Review, "You Can’t Ignore Politics in Impeachment," 11 Oct. 2019 Then as now, the key issue was whether groups concerned with the public good could justifiably take money from people of questionable morals. David Mislin, The Conversation, "How a 1905 debate about ‘tainted’ Rockefeller money is a reminder of ethical dilemmas today," 2 Oct. 2019 Burmah’s prosecution gave Fitts another chance to define himself as a guardian of the public morals and of civic life. Julia Bricklin, Smithsonian, "How the ‘Blonde Rattlesnake’ Stirred Public Fascination With Female Accomplices," 24 Sep. 2019 The fourth vacationer is the elderly old prune Mrs. Graves, profoundly etched by Judy Jones as a champion of morals and manners. Daily Pilot, "On Theater: An “Enchanted” comedy in Newport," 24 Sep. 2019 In fact, etiquette does not care, this being a question of morals, not manners. Judith Martin, The Mercury News, "Miss Manners: Does an unmarried couple deserve a housewarming?," 12 Sep. 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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Time Traveler for moral

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for moral

Last Updated

30 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Moral.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/moral. Accessed 13 December 2019.

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More Definitions for moral

moral

adjective
How to pronounce moral (audio)

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
How to pronounce moral (audio) How to pronounce moral (audio)

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

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for moral

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with 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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