Definition of ethic in English:



  • [in singular] A set of moral principles, especially ones relating to or affirming a specified group, field, or form of conduct.

    ‘the puritan ethic was being replaced by the hedonist ethic’
    • ‘But a strong work ethic was instilled in him at an early age.’
    • ‘Miller was a persistent critic not of commerce, but of the commercial ethic as an all-embracing ideology.’
    • ‘Maybe I do have a residual Protestant work ethic after all.’
    • ‘Underlying this system is an ethic that seems to value discipline and sacrifice for their own sake.’
    • ‘Buddhism does have a strong sexual ethic, but not a repressive one.’
    • ‘It asserts the value of a socialist ethic that de-emphasises self-promotion.’
    • ‘Christians have occasionally suggested that all of society should run on an ethic of brotherly love.’
    • ‘For an ethic is not an ethic, and a value not a value without some sacrifice to it.’
    • ‘His writings and addresses increasingly dealt with the ethics and morality of the end of life.’
    • ‘Gender equality may not be too far off, given that action sports typically enjoy a community ethic.’
    • ‘Today, the religious element of that work ethic has largely gone - but the ethic itself remains.’
    • ‘Is the core ethic of our society to maximise personal wealth?’
    • ‘Acting on strong moral convictions ought to be part of an ethic of responsibility.’
    • ‘The programme was also intended to develop the ethic of natural resource conservation.’
    • ‘The original culture, with its strict mores enforcing an ethic of sharing, is apparently losing its dominance.’
    • ‘The ethic of public service was passed on from his father, who worked in the island's customs office.’
    • ‘Together, we will need to build a new ethic of global stewardship.’
    • ‘It is a rational, utilitarian, practical ethic, deeply American and consumerist.’
    • ‘Over the past three decades environmentalism has evolved from a social movement to a societal ethic.’
    • ‘The language of social justice also needs to be moderated and shaped by an ethic of care.’
    • ‘This was the reality of the collectivist ethic in which each should be striving for all, not for himself and his own.’
    doctrine, belief, creed, credo, attitude, rule, golden rule, guideline, formula, standard, criterion, tenet, truism, code, ethic, maxim, motto, axiom, aphorism, notion, dictum, dogma, canon, law
    View synonyms


  • Relating to moral principles or the branch of knowledge dealing with these.

    • ‘Of course these ethic questions must be answered in the comfort of your own home safe and warm at night.’
    • ‘I think there is an ethic question here.’


Late Middle English (denoting ethics or moral philosophy; also used attributively): from Old French éthique, from Latin ethice, from Greek ( hē) ēthikē (tekhnē) (the science of) morals based on ēthos (see ethos).