Monday, April 13, 2009

word a day#3

This is a good one for today I think:

moral |ˈmôrəl; ˈmär-|
concerned 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.
• concerned with or adhering to 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.
• holding or manifesting high principles for proper conduct : he is a caring, efficient, moral man.
• derived from or based on ethical principles or a sense of these : the moral obligation of society to do something about the inner city's problems.
• [ attrib. ] examining the nature of ethics and the foundations of good and bad character and conduct : moral philosophers.
1 a lesson, esp. 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.
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.
• standards of behavior that are considered good or acceptable : they believe addicts have no morals and cannot be trusted.

ORIGIN 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.

You can be an ethical person without necessarily being a moral one, since ethical implies conformity with a code of fair and honest behavior, particularly in business or in a profession (: an ethical legislator who didn't believe in cutting deals), while moral refers to generally accepted standards of goodness and rightness in character and conduct—especially sexual conduct (: the moral values she'd learned from her mother).
In the same way, you can be honorable without necessarily being virtuous, since honorable suggests dealing with others in a decent and ethical manner, while virtuous implies the possession of moral excellence in character (: many honorable businesspeople fail to live a virtuous private life).
Righteous is similar in meaning to virtuous but also implies freedom from guilt or blame (: righteous anger); when the righteous person is also somewhat intolerant and narrow-minded, self-righteous might be a better adjective.
Someone who makes a hypocritical show of being righteous is often described as sanctimonious —in other words, acting like a saint without having a saintly character.

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