The Meaning of Ethical: What It Is and How To Use It

People often use the word ethical to discuss moral standards. This article will cover the meaning of ethical and other related topics.

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If something is ethical or unethical, what does that mean? This article will cover the meaning of the word ethical so that you can learn how to it in a sentence. This article will also provide example sentences containing the word ethical, translations of ethical, and more. 

What Does the Word Ethical Mean?

According to Dictionary, the word ethical is an adjective that means related to morals or principles or the concept of right and wrong. 

If something is ethical, it is within moral rules or standards. The pronunciation of ethical is ˈɛθ ɪ kəl, and ethical is three syllables: eth-i-cal. Therefore, the adverb form of the adjective ethical is ethically.

What Is The Origin of Ethical?

Dictionary also states that the word ethical comes from the word ethic, which has been used in Middle English since the 1300s. This term comes from the Latin ēthicus or ethicus, the Greek ēthikós or ēthikos, and the Greek ethos

Learning word origin and etymology is a great way to expand your vocabulary and know how to spell things. For example, if you know that the word ethical comes from the Greek term ethos, which means nature or disposition, you could also decipher the meanings of words like ethnic, ethnography, and more! 

What Are Examples of Ethical?

You can use the word ethical in many different sentences to describe things that are morally sound or related to the principles of morality. This word is not considered casual or formal. It has a fairly neutral connotation, so you can use it in various settings. 

Once you have studied these example sentences that contain the word ethical, see if you can come up with your own as practice!

Example #1: A Class About Ethics

The ethical theory class studied different ethical issues and ethical codes throughout history. The study of ethics and moral principles fascinated the students, who were also determining their own moral standards.

Example #2: A Lack of Ethical Behavior

The school kicked him out due to his lack of ethical behavior. In addition, his consistent plagiarism did not meet the university’s ethical standards.

Example #3: Ethical Dilemmas 

The company decided how to manage the ethical dilemmas in the workplace.

Example #4: The Ethical Thing To Do

She decided to make the ethical decision and break up with her boyfriend rather than cheat on him. This course of action was not easy, but it was right.

Example #5: Ethical Problems

Numerous ethical problems caused people to fight against the healthcare system.

What Are Translations of Ethical?

Debates over what is ethical occur in many more languages than just American English! To learn how to discuss ethical things in another language, you can start by referencing this list of ethical translations from Nice Translator

You might notice that several of the translations in the below list might look or sound similar to the word ethical. This is likely because they share the Greek root ethos. Many times, when words in different languages share a root or common language, translations might look similar.

  • Croatian: etički
  • Vietnamese: đạo đức.
  • Tamil: நெறிமுறை
  • Chinese (PRC): 伦理
  • Basque: etikoa
  • Slovak: etický
  • Estonian: eetiline
  • Kannada: ನೈತಿಕ
  • Ukrainian: етичний
  • Amharic: ሥነ ምግባር
  • Hebrew: אֶתִי
  • Polish: etyczny
  • French: éthique
  • Arabic: الأخلاقية
  • Hungarian: etikai
  • Welsh: moesegol
  • Czech: etický
  • Gujarati: નૈતિક
  • Finnish: eettinen
  • Telugu: నైతికత
  • Turkish: etik
  • Japanese: 倫理的
  • Filipino: etikal
  • Catalan: ètic
  • Greek: ηθικά
  • Spanish: ético
  • Swahili: Maadili
  • Thai: มีจริยธรรม
  • Dutch: ethisch
  • Slovenian: etično
  • Hindi: नैतिक
  • Italian: etico
  • Romanian: etic
  • Danish: etisk
  • Serbian: етички
  • Swedish: etisk
  • Urdu: اخلاقی
  • Korean: 윤리적 인
  • Malay: etika
  • German: ethisch
  • Indonesian: etis
  • Bulgarian: Етично
  • Malayalam: ധാർമ്മിക
  • Marathi: नैतिक
  • Norwegian: etisk
  • Chinese (Taiwan): 倫理
  • Russian: этический
  • Latvian: ētisks
  • Icelandic: siðferðilegt
  • Portuguese (Portugal): ético
  • Bengali: নৈতিকতা
  • Portuguese (Brazil): ético
  • Lithuanian: etiškai

What Are Synonyms of Ethical?

The word ethical has a fairly neutral connotation. Sometimes, if you are describing something that is ethical, you might want to use the word that has a positive connotation. 

Additionally, if you feel that you have used the word ethical too much in one sentence or paragraph, you might be searching for a word to use in its place. 

You can use a synonym from Power Thesaurus for these and other cases: 

  • admirable
  • blameless
  • clean
  • commendable
  • conscientious
  • correct
  • creditable
  • decent
  • dependable
  • equitable
  • exemplary
  • fair
  • good
  • guiltless
  • high-minded
  • high-principled
  • honest
  • honorable
  • incorruptible
  • irreproachable
  • just
  • law-abiding
  • lawful
  • moral
  • morally correct
  • noble
  • praiseworthy
  • principled
  • proper
  • pure
  • reliable
  • reputable
  • respectable
  • right
  • right-minded
  • righteous
  • saintly
  • scrupulous
  • square
  • squeaky clean
  • straight
  • straightforward
  • true
  • trustworthy
  • truthful
  • uncorrupted
  • upright
  • upstanding
  • virtuous
  • wholesome
  • worthy

What Are Antonyms of Ethical?

If you are trying to describe something that is not ethical, you can use an antonym of the word ethical. Like the synonyms of ethical, some of these have a neutral connotation, and others have a negative connotation. 

See how many of these synonyms of ethical from Power Thesaurus you already know:

  • atrocious 
  • awful
  • bad
  • bad to the bone
  • base
  • black
  • blameworthy
  • capricious
  • corrupt
  • criminal
  • crooked
  • culpable
  • cutthroat
  • debased
  • debauched
  • decadent
  • degenerate
  • degraded
  • demoralized
  • depraved
  • despicable
  • dirty
  • dishonest
  • dishonorable
  • disreputable
  • dissipated
  • dissolute
  • evil
  • foul
  • ignoble
  • illegitimate
  • immoral
  • improper
  • incorrect
  • indecent
  • infamous
  • iniquitous
  • irregular
  • irresponsible
  • low
  • mean
  • naughty
  • nefarious
  • not good
  • outrageous
  • perverse
  • perverted
  • reprobate
  • roguish
  • rotten
  • shameful
  • shy
  • sinful
  • slippery
  • unconscionable
  • unethical
  • unfair
  • unjust
  • unprincipled
  • unrighteous
  • unscrupulous
  • unseemly
  • untrue
  • untrustworthy
  • venal
  • vicious
  • vile
  • villainous
  • wicked
  • wretched
  • wrong


Ethical (ˈeθɪkəl) is an adjective that means morally upright or morally sound. If something is ethical, that means that it is accepted on the basis of moral principles. What do you think is ethical?


  1. Ethical synonyms – 737 Words and Phrases for Ethical | Power Thesaurus 
  2. Ethical antonyms – 708 Opposites of Ethical | Power Thesaurus 
  3. Ethical Definition & Meaning | 
  4. Ethical | Nice Translator