'Moral' vs 'Morale': What's the Difference?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on August 13, 2023

If you are looking for an explanation of the difference between 'moral' vs. 'morale,' you are in luck!

Here is a quick answer:

  • 'Moral' is an adjective or noun that relates to ethics or whether or not something is ethical. 
  • 'Morale' is a noun that means conduct or the condition of the emotional state of a group of people. 

There is much more to learn about these terms and how to use them. So, keep reading!

What's the Difference Between 'Moral' vs. 'Morale?'

'Moral' and 'morale' confuse many writers because they have similar spellings. However, they do have different meanings and pronunciations.

  • 'Moral' is an adjective or noun. As an adjective, it means relating to right and wrong or good and bad behavior. When you use it as a noun, it means the ethical significance of a story or lesson.
  • 'Morale,' on the other hand, is a noun that means moral principles or the state of mind of a group of people. The term often refers to employee morale or keeping 'morale' high.

Definition of 'Moral': What Does 'Moral' Mean?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines 'moral' as an adjective that means:

  • Ethical or relating to right and wrong behavior

It can also mean:

  • The teaching of good or proper behavior
  • Conforming to a standard or code or proper behavior
  • Sanctioned or motivated by someone's conscience or understanding of correct behavior
  • Having the ability to distinguish right and wrong behavior or activities
  • Psychological or conceptual rather than factual or tangible

It can also be a noun that means:

  • The moral lesson in a story
  • A passage that gives the moral lesson of a story
  • Ethics, in the plural

Synonyms of 'Moral'

  • Ethical
  • Honorable
  • Decent
  • Virtuous
  • Honest
  • Good
  • Right
  • Just
  • Proper
  • Correct
  • Exemplary
  • Reputable
  • Pure
  • Commendable
  • Respected
  • Sanctimonious
  • Blameless
  • Scrupulous
  • Incorruptible
  • Blameless
  • Guiltless

Terms Related to 'Moral'

  • Moral code
  • Moral compass
  • Moral obligation
  • Moral conduct
  • Moral high road
  • Moral obligation bond

Definition of 'Morale': What Does 'Morale' Mean?

The same source defines 'morale' as a noun that means:

  • Moral principles, conduct, teachings, or character

It can also mean:

  • The mental or emotional state of an individual or group of people
  • A level of satisfaction based on a sense of direction, purpose, and fulfillment

Synonyms of 'Morale'

Morale is a very specific term. So, there are no synonyms for 'morale.'

Terms Related to 'Morale'

  • Employee morale
  • Troop morale
  • Military morale
  • Restore morale
  • Low morale
  • High morale

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Moral' vs. 'Morale'

Next, let's look at the pronunciation of 'moral' vs. 'morale.' Learning to say these terms will help you gain confidence to use them.

So, here is a pronunciation guide you can reference.

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'moral':


  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'morale':


As you can see, these words have similar pronunciations. However, they are slightly different. So, it is critical that you use the correct pronunciation.

When and How to Use 'Moral' vs. 'Morale'

You learned the difference in the definitions and pronunciations of these terms. So, here are some tips for when and how to use each.

  • Use 'moral' in reference to good behavior.

For example, you could say:

As a parent, one of the most important things you can do for your children is to teach them good morals. 

  • Use 'moral' when talking about an ethical code of conduct.

For example, you might say:

How could you approve a deal like this? Do you not have a moral compass? 

  • Use 'morale' to discuss a person's opinion or state of being.

So, I might say:

His morale was low after he faced a financial setback that wiped out his savings last year.

  • Use 'morale' when discussing the state of mind of a group or workforce.

As an example, you could say:

The new incentive program that offers regular raises and quarterly bonuses has been excellent for employee morale. 

Sample Sentences Using 'Moral' vs. 'Morale'

Finally, read these sample sentences to ensure you know different ways to use these terms.


  • People are easily persuaded into doing things they would not normally do when they do not have strong morals.
  • Having good morals is essential in life. It ensures that you have accountability.
  • Children are usually taught morals at home and academics at school.
  • Some morals are personal, while others are social norms.
  • If your parents didn't teach you morals, you may not know right from wrong.
  • The beliefs most people recognize are the moral fabric of society.
  • People who stand firm in their morals are typically happier.


  • Teacher morale was low after the most recent budget cuts.
  • You can keep your morale high by celebrating your victories.
  • Having weekly meetings to address office issues helps to keep morale high in an office setting.
  • Managers need to pay attention to the morale of their employees.
  • The managers tried to boost employee morale to no avail.
  • When employees are treated well at the office, they typically have higher morale.
  • Employee morale and retention typically go hand in hand.


  • Posting a moral code of conduct can help to maintain a high level of employee morale.
  • When personnel feel like they have to sacrifice their morals, it can negatively impact morale.
  • A team without morals is not conducive to building morale.
  • The breakdown of the moral fabric of society affects the morale of everyone.

Final Review of the Difference Between 'Moral' vs. 'Morale'

We covered a lot of information in this lesson. So, let's review the difference between 'moral' vs. 'morale':

  •  'Moral' is an adjective or noun that relates to what people consider good or right behavior.
  • 'Morale' is a noun that means moral principles or the state of mind an individual or group is in.

Despite a comprehensive understanding of terms, some, like 'moral' and 'morale,' are challenging to remember. However, you can always come back to this post to review this lesson.

You can also learn about many other words in the confusing words section here. Each guide contains an explanation of the term, definitions, and other valuable information to help you increase your vocabulary and learn important grammar rules.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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