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

  • noun The quality of being in accord with standards of right or good conduct.
  • noun A system or collection of ideas of right and wrong conduct.
  • noun Virtuous conduct.
  • noun A rule or lesson in moral conduct.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The doctrine or system of duties; morals; ethics.
  • noun The character of being moral; accord with the rules of right conduct; moral quality; virtuousness: often used in a restricted sense to denote sexual purity.
  • noun Moral conduct; the practice of the duties inculcated by the moral rules that are recognized as valid; in a general and collective sense, those forms of human conduct which are the subject of moral judgments.
  • noun Hence The practice of moral duties regarded as apart from and as not based upon vital religious principle.
  • noun A moral inference or reflection; a moralization; intent; meaning; moral.
  • noun A kind of drama which succeeded the miracle-plays or mysteries, and in which the persons of the play were abstractions, or allegorical representations of virtues, vices, and mental powers and faculties.
  • noun =Syn. 1-3. Morality, Morals, Manners, Virtue, Ethics. Morality (or morals) and manners stand over against each other as respectively conforming to right or propriety in the great duties and iu the minor forms of action and intercourse. Morality is often popularly applied to conformity to right in that particular in which right conduct is most felt to be important, as chastity or honesty. Virtue is morality of the fullest type and regarded as a part of personal character. Ethics is the technical, as morals is the popular, name for the science of virtue.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun The relation of conformity or nonconformity to the moral standard or rule; quality of an intention, a character, an action, a principle, or a sentiment, when tried by the standard of right.
  • noun The quality of an action which renders it good; the conformity of an act to the accepted standard of right.
  • noun The doctrines or rules of moral duties, or the duties of men in their social character; ethics.
  • noun The practice of the moral duties; rectitude of life; conformity to the standard of right; virtue.
  • noun A kind of allegorical play, so termed because it consisted of discourses in praise of morality between actors representing such characters as Charity, Faith, Death, Vice, etc. Such plays were occasionally exhibited as late as the reign of Henry VIII.
  • noun obsolete Intent; meaning; moral.

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

  • noun uncountable Recognition of the distinction between good and evil or between right and wrong; respect for and obedience to the rules of right conduct; the mental disposition or characteristic of behaving in a manner intended to produce morally good results.
  • noun countable A set of social rules, customs, traditions, beliefs, or practices which specify proper, acceptable forms of conduct.
  • noun countable A set of personal guiding principles for conduct or a general notion of how to behave, whether respectable or not.
  • noun countable, archaic A lesson or pronouncement which contains advice about proper behavior.
  • noun uncountable, rare Moral philosophy, the branch of philosophy which studies the grounds and nature of rightness, wrongness, good, and evil.
  • noun countable, rare A particular theory concerning the grounds and nature of rightness, wrongness, good, and evil.

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

  • noun concern with the distinction between good and evil or right and wrong; right or good conduct
  • noun motivation based on ideas of right and wrong


from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Anglo-Norman moralité, Middle French moralité, from Late Latin moralitas ("manner, characteristic, character"), from Latin mōrālis ("relating to manners or morals"), from mos ("manner, custom").


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



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

  • i reviewed the meaning of morality and ethics after catching myself using both words in a conversation. suggestion #1: develop a forum to compare words with similar meanings. #2 develop a section for interesting/unusual phrasing. #3 we need new words for established things that have dated,dumb sounding words now:queer,homosexual,faggot. i note your software has faggot as a misspelling...are you kidding me?

    by the way, the noun/adjective lesbian needs no alteration to be contempo. oops, another misspelling. perhaps wordnik needs to become more contempo. regards, lallo skookum.

    January 10, 2010

  • See faggot word page and faggot comments.

    January 10, 2010