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moral

play
adjective mor·al \ ˈmȯr-əl , ˈmär- \

Definition of moral

1 a :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

morally

play \-ə-lē\ adverb

Examples of moral in a Sentence

  1. 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 MailerNew York Review of Books27 Mar. 2002
  2. … trip-wire sensitivity to perceived insult often leads to unjustifiable firings and other moral and legal imbroglios. —John McWhorterNew Republic14 Jan. 2002
  3. 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 FukuyamaAtlanticMay 1999
  4. 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 MillerTimebends1987
  5. The author avoids making moral judgments.

  6. Each story teaches an important moral lesson.

  7. He felt that he had a moral obligation to help the poor.

  8. We're confident she has the moral fiber to make the right decision.

  9. Their behavior was not moral.

  10. Animals are not moral creatures and are not responsible for their actions.

Recent Examples of moral from the Web

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.

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

Origin and Etymology of moral

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

Synonym Discussion of moral

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

2

moral

play
noun mor·al \ ˈmȯr-əl , ˈmär- ; sense 3 is mə-ˈral \

Definition of moral

1 a :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.

Examples of moral in a Sentence

  1. The moral of the story is to be satisfied with what you have.

  2. The moral here is: pay attention to the warning lights in your car.

  3. Socrates was accused of corrupting the morals of the youth of Athens.

  4. The author points to recent cases of fraud as evidence of the lack of morals in the business world.

Recent Examples of moral from the Web

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.

Origin and Etymology of moral

see 1moral



MORAL Defined for English Language Learners

moral

play
adjective

Definition of moral for English Language Learners

  • : 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

play
noun

Definition of moral for English Language Learners

  • : a lesson that is learned from a story or an experience

  • morals : proper ideas and beliefs about how to behave in a way that is considered right and good by most people


MORAL Defined for Kids

1

moral

play
adjective mor·al \ ˈmȯr-əl \

Definition of moral for Students

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 :1good 13, virtuous
  • They lead a moral life.
4 :able to tell right from wrong
  • Humans are moral beings.

morally

adverb
  • morally wrong behavior

2

moral

noun

Definition of moral for Students

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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