Definition of moral in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈmôrəl/


1Concerned with the principles of right and wrong behavior and the goodness or badness of human character: the moral dimensions of medical intervention a moral judgment
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  • It is also clear that moral principles and political judgments are inextricably intertwined.
  • The cardinal virtues enable leaders to habitually incorporate moral principles in their behaviour.
  • We do not live in an ideal world, and to make moral judgments about the behaviour of others is demeaning.
1.1Concerned with or derived from the code of interpersonal behavior that is considered right or acceptable in a particular society: an individual’s ambitions may get out of step with the general moral code the moral obligation of society to do something about the inner city’s problems
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  • Further, the arguments are based in moral rather than legal terms.
  • Moreover, statements are qualifiedly privileged if made pursuant to a legal, social or moral duty.
  • The society safeguards the moral and social code necessary for them to live together in harmony.
ethical, social, having to do with right and wrong
1.2 [attributive] Examining the nature of ethics and the foundations of good and bad character and conduct: moral philosophers
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  • Smith was a moral philosopher and as such his role was ‘to do nothing, and observe everything’.
  • David was a moral philosopher and historian and a leading member of the Scottish Enlightenment.
2Holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct: he prides himself on being a highly moral and ethical person
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  • These debates are driven by contrasting moral visions of the proper authority of teachers and the proper docility of students.
  • What is the proper role for the military in this new political and moral relationship?
  • Ms Lay said her husband is an ‘honest, decent, moral human begin who would do absolutely nothing wrong.’


1A lesson, especially one concerning what is right or prudent, that can be derived from a story, a piece of information, or an experience: the moral of this story was that one must see the beauty in what one has
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  • The moral of this story is not that honesty works.
  • As always the moral of this story is to use you credit card for any sizeable purchases as any problem with the goods or retailer become the card company's problem rather than yours.
  • I guess the moral of this story is to question, always question.
lesson, message, meaning, significance, signification, import, point, teaching
2 (morals) A person’s standards of behavior or beliefs concerning what is and is not acceptable for them to do: the corruption of public morals they believe addicts have no morals and cannot be trusted
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  • There is such a thing as a modicum of decency and morals of public behaviour.
  • I suppose my image has changed but I'd like to think I'm still the same Vivienne and that my principles and morals are the same.
  • My mother and father did a great job in instilling the morals and principles in us from the very beginning.
moral code, code of ethics, (moral) values, principles, standards, (sense of) morality, scruples


Late Middle English: from Latin moralis, from mos, mor- 'custom', (plural) mores 'morals'. As a noun the word was first used to translate Latin Moralia, the title of St. Gregory the Great's moral exposition of the Book of Job, and was subsequently applied to the works of various classical writers.

  • Moral is from Latin moralis, from mos, ‘custom’, (plural) mores ‘morals’, also behind morose (mid 16th century). As a noun the word was first used to translate Moralia, the Latin title of St Gregory the Great's exposition of the Book of Job. It was subsequently applied to the works of various classical writers. In the mid 18th century the identical French word was adopted into English and an ‘e’ added to the English spelling to indicate the French stress on the second syllable, to produce morale.

Words that rhyme with moral

amoral, Balmoral, coral, immoral, laurel, quarrel, sorel, sorrel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: mor·al

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