a. A set of principles of right conduct.
b. A theory or a system of moral values: "An ethic of service is at war with a craving for gain" (Gregg Easterbrook).
2. ethics(used with a sing. verb) The study of the general nature of morals and of the specific moral choices to be made by a person; moral philosophy.
3. ethics(used with a sing. or pl. verb) The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the members of a profession: medical ethics.
[Middle English ethik
, from Old French ethique
(from Late Latin ēthica
, from Greek ēthika
) and from Latin ēthicē
(from Greek ēthikē
), both from Greek ēthikos
, from ēthos
; see s(w)e-
in Indo-European roots
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
(Philosophy) (functioning as singular
) the philosophical study of the moral value of human conduct and of the rules and principles that ought to govern it; moral philosophy. See also meta-ethics
2. (functioning as plural) a social, religious, or civil code of behaviour considered correct, esp that of a particular group, profession, or individual
3. (functioning as plural) the moral fitness of a decision, course of action, etc: he doubted the ethics of their verdict.
ˈethicist, eˈthician n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014
eth•ics (ˈɛθ ɪks)
1. (used with a sing. or pl. v.) a system or set of moral principles.
2. (used with a pl. v.) the rules of conduct governing a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.: medical ethics.
3. (usu. used with a sing. v.) the branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of actions and the goodness and badness of motives and ends.
4. (used with a pl. v.) moral principles, as of an individual: His ethics forbade cheating.
[1400–50; modeled on Greek tàēthiká]
eth•i•cist (ˈɛθ ə sɪst) e•thi•cian (ɛˈθɪʃ ən) n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
the state or quality of being without morality or of being indifferent to moral standards. — amoralist, n. — amoral, adj.
the branch of philosophy dealing with values, as those of ethics, aesthetics, or religion. — axiologist, n. — axiological, adj.
1. a person who studies and resolves questions of right and wrong in conduct.
2. an oversubtle or specious reasoner. — casuistic, adj.
1. the branch of ethics or theology that studies the relation of general ethical principles to particular cases of conduct or conscience.
2. a dishonest or oversubtle application of such principles.
the branch of philosophy concerned with ethics, especially that branch dealing with duty, moral obligation, and right action. — deontologist, n. — deontological, adj.
the ethical doctrine that the basis of morality lies in the tendency of right actions to produce happiness, especially in a life governed by reason rather than pleasure. — eudemonist, eudaemonist, n.
a branch of philosophy concerned with the foundations of ethics and especially with the definition of ethical terms and the nature of moral discourse.
the practice of morality, as distinct from religion. — moralist, n. — moralistic, adj.
sensualism. — sensationalist, n.
the doctrine that the good is to be judged only by or through the gratifleation of the senses. Also called sensationalism.
the belief or doctrine that the conscience is the repository of the laws of right and wrong. See also health
the ethical doctrine that virtue is based upon utility and that behavior should have as its goal the procurement of the greatest happiness for the greatest number of persons. — utilitarian, n., adj.
-Ologies & -Isms. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
ethic ethics ethical
A particular ethic is an idea or moral belief that influences the behaviour and attitudes of a group of people.
...the ethic of public service.
...the Protestant work ethic.
Ethics are moral beliefs and rules about right and wrong. When you use ethics with this meaning, it is a plural noun. You use a plural form of a verb with it.
Such action was a violation of medical ethics.
Ethics is also the study of questions about what is morally right or wrong. When ethics has this meaning, it is an uncount noun. You use a singular form of a verb with it.
We are only too ready to believe that ethics is a field where thinking does no good.
Ethic is never an adjective. The adjective that means 'relating to ethics' is ethical.
...an ethical problem.
He had no real ethical objection to drinking.
Collins COBUILD English Usage © HarperCollins Publishers 1992, 2004, 2011, 2012
The philosophical study of morality in human conduct, and of the rules which ought to govern it.
Dictionary of Unfamiliar Words by Diagram Group Copyright © 2008 by Diagram Visual Information Limited