Synonym Chooser

How does the adjective ethical differ from other similar words?

Some common synonyms of ethical are moral, noble, righteous, and virtuous. While all these words mean "conforming to a standard of what is right and good," ethical may suggest the involvement of more difficult or subtle questions of rightness, fairness, or equity.

committed to the highest ethical principles

When is moral a more appropriate choice than ethical?

The meanings of moral and ethical largely overlap; however, moral implies conformity to established sanctioned codes or accepted notions of right and wrong.

the basic moral values of a community

When would noble be a good substitute for ethical?

Although the words noble and ethical have much in common, noble implies moral eminence and freedom from anything petty, mean, or dubious in conduct and character.

had the noblest of reasons for seeking office

When is it sensible to use righteous instead of ethical?

The words righteous and ethical are synonyms, but do differ in nuance. Specifically, righteous stresses guiltlessness or blamelessness and often suggests the sanctimonious.

wished to be righteous before God and the world

When might virtuous be a better fit than ethical?

While the synonyms virtuous and ethical are close in meaning, virtuous implies moral excellence in character.

not a religious person, but virtuous nevertheless

Thesaurus Entries Near ethical

Cite this Entry

“Ethical.” Thesaurus, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 14 Apr. 2024.

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