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  1. pertaining to or dealing with morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in conduct.
  2. 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.
  3. (of drugs) sold only upon medical prescription.
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Origin of ethical

First recorded in 1600–10; ethic + -al1
Related formseth·i·cal·ly, adverbeth·i·cal·i·ty, eth·i·cal·ness, nounhy·per·eth·i·cal, adjectivehy·per·eth·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·eth·i·cal, adjectivenon·eth·i·cal·ly, adverbnon·eth·i·cal·ness, nounpseu·do·eth·i·cal, adjectivepseu·do·eth·i·cal·ly, adverbsu·per·eth·i·cal, adjectivesu·per·eth·i·cal·ly, adverbun·eth·i·cal, adjective


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Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for ethically


  1. in accordance with principles of conduct that are considered correct, esp those of a given profession or group
  2. of or relating to ethics
  3. (of a medicinal agent) available legally only with a doctor's prescription or consent
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Derived Formsethically, adverbethicalness or 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

Word Origin and History for ethically



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

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper

ethically in Medicine


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