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moral and morale - the difference

The Quick Answer
A moral is the lesson learnt from a story.

Moral is an adjective meaning ethical or virtuous.

Morals are the standards someone adopts to determine right from wrong.

Morale means mental or emotional state (e.g., spirit or attitude).

Moral or Morale

The words moral and morale look and sound similar, but their meanings are quite different.

With the stress on the first syllable, moral rhymes with coral (as in coral reef).

With the stress on the second syllable, morale rhymes with corral. (Corral means to round up as in to corral the sheep).

Moral

As a noun, a moral is the lesson learnt from a story (e.g., the moral of the story is don't drink and drive).

The plural, morals, usually conveys a different meaning. Morals are the standards that people adopt to differentiate between acceptable (or good) behaviour and unacceptable (or bad) behaviour.

As an adjective, moral means ethical or virtuous.

For example:
  • Everything has got a moral if you can only find it. (Lewis Carroll, 1832-1898)
  • (moral = a lesson we can learn from)
  • If your morals make you dreary, they are wrong. (Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894)
  • (morals = standards to determine right from wrong)
  • No moral system can rest solely on authority. (A. J. Ayer, 1910-1989)
  • (moral = ethical)

Morale

As a noun, morale means mental or emotional state. It often refers to someone's spirit or attitude.

For example:
  • Your morale seems low. Are you okay?
  • I don't think we're going to solve our morale issue with a few sandwiches.
  • Studies have shown that employees' morale is directly related to their productivity.
  • Low morale will increase work errors, increase sick days, and decrease cooperation between  departments.
Quick Test
Select the correct version:

 

Top Tip

A Little Trick to Remember Morale

Let the ale of morale remind you that morale refers to spirit (or state of mental wellbeing).