Definition of moralize in English:


(also moralise)


  • 1[no object] Comment on issues of right and wrong, typically with an unfounded air of superiority.

    ‘the self-righteous moralizing of his aunt was ringing in his ears’
    • ‘Although I enjoyed those ancient tales, Dahl was never one to preach or moralise.’
    • ‘But politicians simply can't help but moralise.’
    • ‘Rationalists do not regard moralizing as a legitimate function of government.’
    • ‘Charley never preached, much less moralized - he would simply get to the heart of the matter and save you time and breath.’
    • ‘Kisor certainly isn't preachy or moralizing, but his characters do wrestle with complex social issues.’
    • ‘It works, though, because it never puts moralizing ahead of story or character.’
    • ‘But overall, they have crafted an exceptional play, touching on matters of the heart in a way that uplifts without moralizing.’
    • ‘It is outstanding in that the book does not attempt to moralize or preach.’
    • ‘Martial's attitude, unlike most social description in antiquity, is not moralizing, but he takes pleasure simply in recording with all his verbal art the complexities and contradictions of the spectacle of life.’
    • ‘And then everyone begins blaming and moralizing, and there's a lot of talk and writing about the return to '50s morality.’
    • ‘If, instead of providing cure or care, doctors become intrusive and moralising, they will soon lose the respect of their patients.’
    • ‘I'm not moralizing here - I find that unhelpful, not to mention boring.’
    • ‘‘I wasn't really interested in moralizing or taking a stance in that respect,’ claims Marston.’
    • ‘But this is not the time for sermonizing or moralizing over US foreign policy.’
    • ‘Issues of race are presented plainly, without moralizing.’
    • ‘At Nuremberg, Rundstedt interpreted his military role as being to execute orders to the best of his ability, but never to moralize to his superior.’
    • ‘We can set aside the irony of an individual who has caused so many civilian deaths in the world moralizing about ‘terrorism.’’
    • ‘But she couldn't, and I just want to tell her that I think she is too self-righteous and moralizing and someday when she grows up a bit, she might understand.’
    • ‘When we relate with ourselves without moralizing, without harshness, without deception, we finally let go of harmful patterns.’
    • ‘Please don't let reporters use it as a soapbox for moralizing.’
    pontificate, sermonize, philosophize, lecture, preach
    View synonyms
  • 2[with object] Reform the character and conduct of.

    ‘he endeavoured to moralize an immoral society’
    • ‘Outlaw, really, your attempting to moralize instinct, and so far the only thing I can see your achieving is contempt for the many that helps no one.’
    • ‘The congregations sought to give practical demonstration of their belief by assisting and moralizing the working masses.’
    • ‘So it moralizes everyone to do what he or she wants to do and be what he or she wants to be, irrespective of what the society prescribes.’
    • ‘They decided to moralize the election and in so doing gave the Christian right a respectability, visibility, and political clout that it had not previously enjoyed.’
    • ‘They can help moralise a demoralised community, as Martin Luther King did in the United States in the 1960s.’
    • ‘Instead, Comte sought to moralize one and all, a cure for humanity not for one class at the expense of another.’
    • ‘They pointed to a progressive development of the concept of holiness, noting that it was gradually moralized under the influence of the great prophets.’
    • ‘His tutelage of Congress Party workers was always fraught with difficulty because those who believed that politics could be moralized were in a minority.’
    • ‘Book number two told him how to dump them, and book number three was how to pick up men, well, this was not to the liking of the newly reigning emperor Augustus, who at that time was trying to moralize Rome.’
    • ‘And therein lies the strength of the film: it does not glorify criminality, nor does it attempt to moralise the rest of the country about it.’
    1. 2.1Interpret or explain as giving lessons on good and bad character and conduct.
      ‘mythographers normally moralize Narcissus as the man who wastes himself in pursuing worldly goods’
      • ‘We moralize the issue of weight and so the really virtuous person is the one who struggles to maintain a lower weight through sacrifice.’
      • ‘But the problem with this view is that it moralizes images in terms of a reductive dichotomy between good and bad, ‘positive’ and ‘negative’, and thus fails to recognize the ambivalence of the text.’
      • ‘It will be my assertion that television creates a split or multiple identification, in which there is an approximate reflection of the viewer's experience, but also simultaneously, a re-channeling of this experience into a limited number of conventional and highly moralized narratives.’
      • ‘Rousseau, by contrast, cast his work as a speculative, and moralizing account of society in general.’
      • ‘Instead, Pope's note to the passage moralizes Homer's sentiment.’


Late Middle English (in the sense ‘explain the moral meaning of’): from French moraliser or medieval Latin moralizare, from late Latin moralis (see moral).