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mor·al  audio  (môrl, mr-) KEY 

ADJECTIVE:
  1. Of or concerned with the judgment of the goodness or badness of human action and character: moral scrutiny; a moral quandary.
  2. Teaching or exhibiting goodness or correctness of character and behavior: a moral lesson.
  3. Conforming to standards of what is right or just in behavior; virtuous: a moral life.
  4. Arising from conscience or the sense of right and wrong: a moral obligation.
  5. Having psychological rather than physical or tangible effects: a moral victory; moral support.
  6. Based on strong likelihood or firm conviction, rather than on the actual evidence: a moral certainty.
NOUN:
  1. The lesson or principle contained in or taught by a fable, a story, or an event.
  2. A concisely expressed precept or general truth; a maxim.
  3. morals Rules or habits of conduct, especially of sexual conduct, with reference to standards of right and wrong: a person of loose morals; a decline in the public morals.

ETYMOLOGY:
Middle English, from Old French, from Latin mrlis, from ms, mr-, custom; see m-1 in Indo-European roots

OTHER FORMS:
moral·ly(Adverb)

SYNONYMS:
moral, ethical, virtuous, righteous

These adjectives mean in accord with right or good conduct. Moral applies to personal character and behavior, especially sexual conduct: "Our moral sense dictates a clearcut preference for these societies which share with us an abiding respect for individual human rights" (Jimmy Carter). Ethical stresses idealistic standards of right and wrong: "Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants" (Omar N. Bradley). Virtuous implies moral excellence and loftiness of character: "The life of the nation is secure only while the nation is honest, truthful, and virtuous" (Frederick Douglass). Righteous emphasizes moral uprightness; when it is applied to actions, reactions, or impulses, it often implies justifiable outrage: "He was . . . stirred by righteous wrath" (John Galsworthy).


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