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[eth-ik] /ˈɛθ ɪk/
the body of moral principles or values governing or distinctive of a particular culture or group:
the Christian ethic; the tribal ethic of the Zuni.
a complex of moral precepts held or rules of conduct followed by an individual:
a personal ethic.
Origin of ethic
1350-1400; Middle English ethic, etic < Latin ēthicus < Greek ēthikós, equivalent to êth(os) ethos + -ikos -ic
Related forms
nonethic, adjective


[eth-iks] /ˈɛθ ɪks/
plural noun
(used with a singular or plural verb) a system of moral principles:
the ethics of a culture.
the rules of conduct recognized in respect to a particular class of human actions or a particular group, culture, etc.:
medical ethics; Christian ethics.
moral principles, as of an individual:
His ethics forbade betrayal of a confidence.
(usually used with a singular verb) that branch of philosophy dealing with values relating to human conduct, with respect to the rightness and wrongness of certain actions and to the goodness and badness of the motives and ends of such actions.
1400-50; late Middle English ethic + -s3, modeled on Greek tà ēthiká, neuter plural
2. See moral. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for ethic
  • The work has already migrated to cheaper more efficient parts of the world where the work ethic actually means something.
  • Many sons and daughters inherited their parents' strict work ethic and went on to brighter futures far from the mill hills.
  • Though these kind of pre extensive ethic concern studies are interesting to read about.
  • It's an ethic that libertarian industry leaders embrace openly.
  • Again, the degree is believed to show the ability to learn and the work ethic to achieve it.
  • People value their strength as well as their work ethic.
  • Americans' puritanical work ethic seems to have been rewarded by a decade of fierce economic growth.
  • All of my coworkers complemented me a lot on my family, morals, and work ethic.
  • Poverty is linked to lack of education and lack of conservation ethic.
  • It cannot give us any sort of ethic by which to live life.
British Dictionary definitions for ethic


a moral principle or set of moral values held by an individual or group: the Puritan ethic
another word for ethical
See also ethics
Word Origin
C15: from Latin ēthicus, from Greek éthikos, from ēthos custom; see ethos


(functioning as sing) 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
(functioning as pl) a social, religious, or civil code of behaviour considered correct, esp that of a particular group, profession, or individual
(functioning as pl) the moral fitness of a decision, course of action, etc: he doubted the ethics of their verdict
Derived Forms
ethicist, noun
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for ethic

late 14c., ethik "study of morals," from Old French etique (13c.), from Late Latin ethica, from Greek ethike philosophia "moral philosophy," fem. of ethikos "ethical," from ethos "moral character," related to ethos "custom" (see ethos). Meaning "a person's moral principles" is attested from 1650s.



"the science of morals," c.1600, plural of Middle English ethik "study of morals" (see ethic). The word also traces to Ta Ethika, title of Aristotle's work.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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ethic in Medicine

ethics eth·ics (ěth'ĭks)
The rules or standards governing the conduct of a person or the conduct of the members of a profession.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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ethic in Culture

ethics definition

The branch of philosophy that deals with morality. Ethics is concerned with distinguishing between good and evil in the world, between right and wrong human actions, and between virtuous and nonvirtuous characteristics of people.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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