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[eth-i-kuh l] /ˈɛθ ɪ kəl/
pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice, especially the standards of a profession:
It was not considered ethical for physicians to advertise.
(of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription.
Origin of ethical
First recorded in 1600-10; ethic + -al1
Related forms
ethically, adverb
ethicality, ethicalness, noun
hyperethical, adjective
hyperethically, adverb
nonethical, adjective
nonethically, adverb
nonethicalness, noun
pseudoethical, adjective
pseudoethically, adverb
superethical, adjective
superethically, adverb
unethical, adjective
2. moral, upright, honest, righteous, virtuous, honorable.
2. immoral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for ethical
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • Tears, of course, except in the privacy of one's closet, were not ethical on the Street.

    K Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • He might as well say that John Bunyan was deficient in ethical instincts.

    Alarms and Discursions G. K. Chesterton
  • Beneath the surface of his jokes there is moral earnestness, there is ethical passion.

    The American Mind Bliss Perry
  • They have all provided ways and means for our ethical evolution.

    Mountain Meditations L. Lind-af-Hageby
  • It is for you, gentlemen, to see that moral and ethical progress is unbroken.

    Morals in Trade and Commerce Frank B. Anderson
British Dictionary definitions for ethical


in accordance with principles of conduct that are considered correct, esp those of a given profession or group
of or relating to ethics
(of a medicinal agent) available legally only with a doctor's prescription or consent
Derived Forms
ethically, adverb
ethicalness, ethicality, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ethical

c.1600, "pertaining to morality," from ethic + -al (1). Related: Ethicality; ethically.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ethical in Medicine

ethical eth·i·cal (ěth'ĭ-kəl)

  1. Of, relating to, or dealing with ethics.

  2. Being in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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