from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • adjective Of, relating to, or dealing with ethics.
  • adjective Being in accordance with the accepted principles of right and wrong that govern the conduct of a profession: synonym: moral.
  • adjective Relating to or being a drug dispensed solely on the prescription of a physician.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • In a special sense, relating to medical ethics or in accord with the code of rules which guides physicians in their relations to one another and to their patients.
  • Relating to morals or the principles of morality; pertaining to right and wrong in the abstract or in conduct; pertaining or relating to ethics.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • adjective philosophy, not comparable Of or relating to the study of ethics.
  • adjective not comparable Of or relating to the accepted principles of right and wrong, especially those of some organization or profession.
  • adjective comparable Morally approvable, when referring to an action that affects others; good.
  • adjective of a drug, not comparable Only dispensed on the prescription of a physician.
  • noun An ethical drug.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adjective of or relating to the philosophical study of ethics
  • adjective conforming to accepted standards of social or professional behavior
  • adjective adhering to ethical and moral principles


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From ethic + -al, from Late Latin ethicus ("moral, ethical"), from Ancient Greek ἠθικός (ēthikos, "of or for morals, moral, expressing character"), from ἦθος (ēthos, "character, moral nature").


Help support Wordnik (and make this page ad-free) by adopting the word ethical.


  • Thomas Baldwin was not exaggerating much when he claimed that, “twentieth century British ethical theory is unintelligible without reference to Principia Ethica; its history until 1960 or so being, in brief, that although Moore was taken to have refuted ˜ethical naturalism™, Moore's own brand of ˜ethical non-naturalism™ was thought to make unacceptable metaphysical and epistemological demands; so the only recourse was to abandon belief in an objective moral reality and accept an emotivist, prescriptivist or otherwise anti-realist, account of ethical values.”

    Moral Non-Naturalism Ridge, Michael 2008

  • We have associated the term ethical with certain special acts which are labeled virtues and are set off from the mass of other acts, and are still more divorced from the habitual images and motives of the children performing them.

    Moral Principles in Education John Dewey 1905

  • Brigham said there is no specific definition of the term ethical for the rankings.

    Reuters: Top News 2009

  • Rick Perry's campaign demanding Univision "take action to correct" what it calls an "ethical breach."

    GOP Backs Rubio in Univision Clash Arian Campo-Flores 2011

  • That is one or the most important principles for judging of what I call the ethical evil of both Capitalism and Communism—for they are both essentially based on waste.

    Fr. McNabb Speaks - Capitalism and Communism/1 2008

  • I have very strong opinions on this point, and hold that what I call the ethical motive for reading is the best of all -- indeed the only true one.

    From a College Window Arthur Christopher Benson 1893

  • It is the only way to fight against what he called ethical impairment, he said.

    Anderson Independent Mail Stories Liz Carey 2010

  • It is the only way to fight against what he called ethical impairment, he said.

    Anderson Independent Mail Stories Liz Carey 2010

  • Democratic operatives with direct knowledge of the Adler campaign and CCDC operations spoke to the Courier-Post on condition of anonymity because of what they described as ethical qualms with Adler's campaign.

    A Tea Party Impostor in NJ-03 2010

  • It's not likely the theme will fade before the Aug. 10 primary, however, thanks to the entry in the race of Republican turned American Constitution Party candidate Tom Tancredo and his focus on what he calls ethical lapses on both GOP candidates 'parts.

    Denver Post: News: Breaking: Local 2010


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.

  • An antonym would be unethical

    February 23, 2013