Word Origin & History
mid-14c., "pertaining to character or temperament" (good or bad), from O.Fr. moral, from L. moralis "proper behavior of a person in society," lit. "pertaining to manners," coined by Cicero ("De Fato," II.i) to translate Gk. ethikos (see ethics
) from L. mos (gen. moris) "one's
disposition," in plural, "mores, customs, manners, morals," of uncertain origin. Meaning "morally good, conforming to moral rules," is first recorded late 14c. of stories, 1630s of persons. Original value-neutral sense preserved in moral support, moral victory, with sense of "pertaining to character as opposed to physical action." The noun meaning "moral exposition of a story" is attested from c.1500. Related: Morally.