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

Deciding the fate of the Islamic State’s former citizens is a legal and moral minefield. Robin Wright, The New Yorker, "America’s ISIS Members Are Coming Home," 11 June 2019 For good moral and psychological reasons, many Americans are unwilling to rethink their assumptions about China. George Steiner, Harper's magazine, "Russia and Red China," 10 June 2019 That pressure and lack of moral support are what brought Alondra to us, the five women of her Open Table mentorship team. Leila Atassi, cleveland.com, "Alondra Rivera teeters on the brink of homelessness, when her mother threatens to cut her from the lease: A Greater Cleveland," 5 June 2019 Some do it because of love of a job, insecurity about taking time off, a heavy workload or feelings of moral obligation, says Gary Johns, a business professor at the University of British Columbia who studies the topic. Chip Cutter, WSJ, "You Sneezed. Go Home.," 24 Jan. 2019 Sheryl Sandberg said there is both a moral and legal obligation. Makena Kelly, The Verge, "Sen. Mark Warner on breaking up Facebook and Congress’ plan to regulate tech," 5 Nov. 2018 Ironically, the meeting at McKinsey occurred as McKinsey employees were speaking out about the moral and ethical concerns surrounding the firm's contract with ICE. Sean Gallagher, Ars Technica, "Amazon pitched its facial recognition to ICE, released emails show [Updated]," 24 Oct. 2018 Her mother, Doria Ragland, has been by her side at Frogmore Cottage with Prince Harry for over a week, and a few close friends, including makeup artist Daniel Martin, have also dropped by for moral support. Omid Scobie, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William & Duchess Kate Have Visited Meghan at Frogmore Cottage," 25 Apr. 2019 Green moral of the story: Sometimes saving the planet starts in the lab. Megan Mcintyre, Hana Hong, Marie Claire, "11 New Innovations in Sustainable Beauty from Around the Globe," 18 Apr. 2019

Recent Examples on the Web: Noun

Biden questioned the president’s intelligence and challenged his morals. John Wagner, Twin Cities, "Biden delivers scathing address on Trump, and the president fires back," 11 June 2019 In The Society, Natasha plays a girl who's torn about everything including her morals, God, and her boyfriend, Luke. Jasmine Gomez, Seventeen, "Here's Everything You Need To Know About The Cast Of "The Society" And Their Characters," 10 May 2019 For Aden, the opportunity to take part in a momentous shoot without compromising her morals and values is both exciting and validating. Nicole Saunders, Harper's BAZAAR, "Halima Aden Is the First Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Model to Wear a Burkini and Hijab," 30 Apr. 2019 At the First Vatican Council in 1870, the bishops declared the pope infallible on matters of faith and morals and recognized the primacy of his jurisdiction over the church. Francis X. Rocca, WSJ, "Even the Pope’s ‘Supreme’ Power Has Its Limits," 29 Apr. 2018 So say those who study the use of artificial intelligence in finance—though a digital wealth adviser with morals is likely still a long way off. Lisa Beilfuss, WSJ, "The Future Robo Adviser: Smart and Ethical?," 19 June 2018 Hall's eye-rolls and audible sighs as the only woman in the room anchors the show to a tenuous set of morals, or even politics, and serves as a layer of 2019 self-awareness placed over the 1987 locker room dialogue. Bridget Read, Vogue, "Black Monday on Showtime: Maybe Wall Street Isn't Funny Anymore," 21 Jan. 2019 Prior to dropping out of the race, Emanuel’s political opponents took him to task for blaming a lack of morals in predominantly black and Hispanic neighborhoods for an uptick in violent crime. Barnini Chakraborty, Fox News, "Rahm Emanuel leaves behind tainted legacy as Chicago murder rate, crime and corruption surge on his watch," 6 Sep. 2018 The outrage has also been directed at Francis and the Vatican and has fueled conservative criticism of Francis' mercy-over-morals priorities. Nicole Winfield, Fox News, "US bishops to meet pope amid crisis in confidence over abuse," 13 Sep. 2018

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

15 Jun 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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