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

What surrounds them is largely trite and artificial, a morality play with little depth in the creation of its characters. Los Angeles Times, "Review: ‘South Central Love’ finds budding romance in bleak circumstances," 7 Aug. 2019 Of course, for many viewers, there’s nothing inherently insidious about the film, which doesn’t have the tone of a morality play. Audrey Farley, The Atlantic, "Steel Magnolias Is a Beloved Weepy With a Dark Side," 15 July 2019 Beneath all the terror and gore, Jaws is largely a morality play. Neil Swidey,, "We’re afraid of sharks. But maybe we’re not afraid enough.," 9 July 2019 If slasher films are morality plays born out of America’s latent Puritanical values, Halloween is the film that codified it all. Bryan Bishop, The Verge, "The new Halloween is a slasher movie with an actual message," 19 Oct. 2018 The tone and substance toggle abruptly among satire, melodrama and morality play. Mike Hale, New York Times, "Review: ‘Trust’ Is Flashy but Ephemeral," 22 Mar. 2018 It was also praised on Gab, a social network popular with the alt-right—a loose agglomeration of groups with far-right ideologies—as a morality play about a downtrodden Aryan warrior. Erich Schwartzel, WSJ, "Making Movies in the Trump Era for the Audience Hollywood Ignored," 15 May 2018 And as a result, the morality play scheduled for Rowan County this fall has been canceled. Andrew Wolfson, The Courier-Journal, "Gay candidate's election loss more about local politics than Kim Davis," 23 May 2018 As his senior season winds down, Heimlich has been cast as the central figure in a morality play. Nancy Armour, USA TODAY, "Should Oregon State pitcher who molested niece play? Not if he continues to deny crime," 23 May 2018

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.

See More

First Known Use of morality play

1866, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about morality play

Dictionary Entries near morality play




morality play


moral law


Statistics for morality play

Last Updated

31 Aug 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for morality play

The first known use of morality play was in 1866

See more words from the same year

More from Merriam-Webster on morality play

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with morality play Encyclopedia article about morality play

Comments on morality play

What made you want to look up morality play? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


tired or exhausted

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Where in the World? A Quiz

  • peter bruegel tower of babel painting
  • What language does pajama come from?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Bee Cubed

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!