morality play


Definition of morality play

1 : an allegorical play popular especially in the 15th and 16th centuries in which the characters personify abstract qualities or concepts (such as virtues, vices, or death)
2 : something (such as a court trial) which involves a direct conflict between right and wrong or good and evil and from which a moral lesson may be drawn

Examples of morality play in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web In real life, the interaction between big-money philanthropy and philanthropy-reliant institutions like universities, charities, and museums is more of a business negotiation than a morality play. Nicholas Lemann, The New Yorker, 23 May 2022 Everyone knows how bubble stock stories like this usually end, but Jakab moves this particular morality play into new territory. Los Angeles Times, 2 Feb. 2022 Amid grinding tension and flares of violence, the series had fundamentally been a morality play that captured life’s ordinary texture in arresting ways. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 14 Apr. 2022 Moses’ life changes forever — initially feels like a morality play with everyone playing the most obvious version of their part. Caroline Framke, Variety, 8 Apr. 2022 But the morality play involving Pete will be relevant as long as morality plays exist. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 26 Jan. 2022 The morality play of that era involved the misdeeds of record labels, who had a long history of exploiting musicians, and who responded to file sharing by suing college students. Alex Ross, The New Yorker, 2 Feb. 2022 That leaves us with one morality play neverending and two guys with their noses pressed to the Cooperstown glass. Paul Daugherty, The Enquirer, 26 Jan. 2022 His novels, rich in themes and scenes drawn from his own peasant beginnings, amounted to a continuing morality play about the poverty and class divisions of the Philippines, a nation seemingly in thrall to fiefs, oligarchies and political dynasties. New York Times, 7 Jan. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of morality play

1866, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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The first known use of morality play was in 1866

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Last Updated

2 Jun 2022

Cite this Entry

“Morality play.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 4 Jul. 2022.

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