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[mawr-uh l, mor-] /ˈmɔr əl, ˈmɒr-/
of, relating to, or concerned with the principles or rules of right conduct or the distinction between right and wrong; ethical:
moral attitudes.
expressing or conveying truths or counsel as to right conduct, as a speaker or a literary work.
founded on the fundamental principles of right conduct rather than on legalities, enactment, or custom:
moral obligations.
capable of conforming to the rules of right conduct:
a moral being.
conforming to the rules of right conduct (opposed to immoral):
a moral man.
virtuous in sexual matters; chaste.
of, relating to, or acting on the mind, feelings, will, or character:
moral support.
resting upon convincing grounds of probability; virtual:
a moral certainty.
the moral teaching or practical lesson contained in a fable, tale, experience, etc.
the embodiment or type of something.
morals, principles or habits with respect to right or wrong conduct.
Origin of moral
1300-50; Middle English < Latin mōrālis, equivalent to mōr- (stem of mōs) usage, custom + -ālis -al1
Related forms
moralless, adjective
antimoral, adjective
hypermoral, adjective
hypermorally, adverb
overmoral, adjective
overmorally, adverb
premoral, adjective
premorally, adverb
pseudomoral, adjective
quasi-moral, adjective
quasi-morally, adverb
supermoral, adjective
supermorally, adverb
undermoral, adjective
Can be confused
moral, morale (see synonym study at the current entry)
5. upright, honest, straightforward, open, virtuous, honorable. 11. integrity, standards, morality. Morals, ethics refer to rules and standards of conduct and practice. Morals refers to generally accepted customs of conduct and right living in a society, and to the individual's practice in relation to these: the morals of our civilization. Ethics now implies high standards of honest and honorable dealing, and of methods used, especially in the professions or in business: ethics of the medical profession. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for morals
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They wanted me to be shackled: for early did they doubt my morals, as to the sex.

    Clarissa, Volume 1 (of 9) Samuel Richardson
  • I have said that the refuge in God is not a question of morals; but it is one of righteousness.

  • Between righteousness and morals the difference is important.

  • morals stand for a code of observances; righteousness for a direction of the life.

  • The morals of one race are not those of another even in the same century.

British Dictionary definitions for morals


concerned with or relating to human behaviour, esp the distinction between good and bad or right and wrong behaviour: moral sense
adhering to conventionally accepted standards of conduct
based on a sense of right and wrong according to conscience: moral courage, moral law
having psychological rather than tangible effects: moral support
having the effects but not the appearance of (victory or defeat): a moral victory, a moral defeat
having a strong probability: a moral certainty
(law) (of evidence, etc) based on a knowledge of the tendencies of human nature
the lesson to be obtained from a fable or event: point the moral
a concise truth; maxim
(pl) principles of behaviour in accordance with standards of right and wrong
Derived Forms
morally, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Latin mōrālis relating to morals or customs, from mōs custom
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 morals

"a person's moral qualities," 1610s, plural of moral (n.).



mid-14c., "pertaining to character or temperament" (good or bad), from Old French moral (14c.) and directly from Latin moralis "proper behavior of a person in society," literally "pertaining to manners," coined by Cicero ("De Fato," II.i) to translate Greek ethikos (see ethics) from Latin mos (genitive moris) "one's disposition," in plural, "mores, customs, manners, morals," of uncertain origin. Perhaps sharing a PIE root with English mood (1).

Meaning "morally good, conforming to moral rules," is first recorded late 14c. of stories, 1630s of persons. Original value-neutral sense preserved in moral support, moral victory (with sense of "pertaining to character as opposed to physical action"). Related: Morally.



"moral exposition of a story," c.1500, from moral (adj.) and from French moral and Late Latin morale.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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