[ mawr-uhl, mor- ]
/ ˈmɔr əl, ˈmɒr- /
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Origin of moral

First recorded in 1300–50; Middle English, from Latin mōrālis, equivalent to mōr- (stem of mōs) “usage, custom” + -ālis-al1

synonym study for moral

11. 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.



moral , morale (see synonym study at the current entry)
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023


What does moral mean?

Moral describes something involved with or related to principles of what is considered righteous behavior, as in The wise man has offered moral guidance to many people.

The word is used as a noun (especially in the plural morals) to refer to such principles. In this sense, morals are used as a basis to determine right and wrong and guide a person to act in a righteous or honorable manner, as in I don’t cheat because it goes against my morals.

The word moral is also used to describe something that follows such principles—something that is considered the right thing to do. If something is considered moral in this way, it is thought to be seen as acceptable by society or in the context of one’s religion. If something is not moral, it is said to be immoral, meaning wrong.

Moral is also commonly used as a noun to mean a lesson or teaching that is contained in a story or fable, as in The moral of the story was that a person should not be afraid to ask for help. The point of most fairy tales and children’s stories is to teach important morals to children.

Moral is often used in overlapping ways with the word ethical, and the word morals is often used in similar ways to the word ethics, which refers to moral principles or rules of conduct. The word moral is more likely to be used in religious contexts, but both moral and ethical are used in nonreligious contexts.

Moral should not be confused with the word morale, which refers to a person’s emotional or mental condition.

Example: I think the key to being a moral person is thinking about not just your intentions but the consequences of your actions.

Where does moral come from?

The first records of moral come from around 1300. It ultimately comes from the Latin mōrālis, meaning “concerned with ethics.”

Moral refers to a complex topic that we have only lightly touched. It is often used in everyday speech as a synonym of good in the sense of heroic or honorable behavior. While most people would usually agree that what is moral and what is good are the same thing, these principles are often relative to a culture, religion, or other beliefs that guide a group of people.

Even within a group itself, people may not agree with something that is said to be moral. For example, a religious text may make a moral judgement about human sexuality that an individual person may disagree with. Life often forces people to resolve moral dilemmas like this.

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What are some other forms related to moral?

  • morally (adverb)
  • moraless (adjective)
  • antimoral (adjective)
  • hypermoral (adjective)
  • pseudomoral (adjective)
  • undermoral (adjective)

What are some synonyms for moral?

What are some words that share a root or word element with moral

What are some words that often get used in discussing moral?

What are some words moral may be commonly confused with?

How is moral used in real life?

Moral is a very common that describes something as being righteous or acceptable behavior.

Try using moral!

True or False?

What is considered moral is the same for everyone.

How to use moral in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for moral

/ (ˈmɒrəl) /


Derived forms of moral

morally, adverb

Word Origin for moral

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