immoral

immoral, unmoral, nonmoral, amoral are all briefly definable as not moral, yet they are not often interchangeable and are frequently confused, largely because the implications and connotations of the second element are not the same in each compound.
Immoral, which implies an active opposition to what is moral, may designate whatever is discordant with accepted ethical principles or the dictates of conscience
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morality cannot be legislated but. . . legislation can be immoralGallagher

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in the way in which he conceded the smaller points in order to win the important objectives and mastered the political game without yielding his own integrity, Roosevelt symbolized the moral man confronted by the dilemmas that an immoral society creates— Link

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and then indicates that what is so designated is fundamentally wrong, unjustifiable, or sinful. But, like moral, immoral may often base its values not on principle but on custom and then may imply no more than discordance with accepted social custom or the general practice
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refusal to acknowledge the boundaries set by convention is the source of frequent denunciations of objects of art as immoralDewey

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for a farm settler to start out with a decent home, efficiently produced, still seems immoral in many quarters— New Republic

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In its frequent specific application to sexual and, especially, irregular sexual matters immoral tends to fluctuate between the two extremes of its usage range according to the concurrent rigidity of the social outlook. It may in the former case come close to licentious or lewd in pejorative quality and in the second lose most of its pejorative force and mean little more than improper or immodest
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lead an immoral life

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immoral people

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Unmoral, nonmoral, and amoral all, in contrast to immoral, imply in one way or another a passive negation of what is moral especially as indicated by absence of or freedom from a code that ought to prevail and the evasion of which constitutes wrongdoing.
In its most typical use unmoral implies a lack of moral perception and ethical awareness and is appropriately applied to persons or to their behavior when these exhibit such a lack; thus, an infant or an idiot may be described as unmoral because in neither case is there a capacity to distinguish right from wrong
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a man so purely primitive that he was of the type that came into the world before the development of the moral nature. He was not immoral, but merely unmoralLondon

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Gertrude Stein's discussions reflect primitiveness also in the attitude taken towards sex, for the characters are depicted as being like savages, innocently unmoralBraddy

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But unmoral may sometimes imply a mere disregard of or failure to be guided by moral principles and is then close to conscienceless
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the great unmoral power of the modern industrial revolution— F. L. Wright

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and occasionally it may, along with nonmoral and amoral, imply that what is so qualified cannot be appraised in terms of morality since it is not a fit subject for ethical judgment
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it [moral] is used as the opposite of unmoral (or amoral) to refer to acts that come within the sphere of moral (or ethical?) consideration as opposed to those to which moral distinctions do not appropriately apply— Garvin

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While nonmoral and amoral are frequently interchangeable
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make religion nonmoral, a matter of inner experience and personal attitude— Randall

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science as such is completely amoral— W. S. Thompson

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nonmoral may be preferred when the thing so described is patently outside the sphere in which moral distinctions or judgments are applicable, while amoral may be applied discriminatively to something not customarily or universally exempted from moral judgment; thus, life in the abstract is a nonmoral concept although a particular personal life may well be amoral; perspective is a non- moral aspect of painting
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even those who assign art a moral function must recognize that nonrepresentational painting is best judged by amoral standards

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for the most part there are no special benefits for doing good, nor any great penalties for being bad. The supernatural power of Melanesian religion is simply amoralNida

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Analogous words: *licentious, lewd, lascivious, libertine, libidinous, lecherous, wanton, lustful: *abandoned, profligate, dissolute, reprobate: obscene, gross, ribald (see COARSE)
Antonyms: moral: chaste, pure

New Dictionary of Synonyms. 2014.

Synonyms:

Look at other dictionaries:

  • immoral — immoral, ale, aux [ i(m)mɔral, o ] adj. • v. 1660; de 1. in et moral ♦ (Personnes) Qui viole les principes de la morale établie. Homme foncièrement immoral. ⇒ corrompu, débauché, dépravé; amoral. ♢ (Choses) Contraire à la morale, aux bonnes mœurs …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • immoral — I adjective amoral, arrant, bad, base, conscienceless, corrupt, criminal, debauched, degenerate, depraved, dishonest, dishonorable, disreputable, dissipated, dissolute, evil, exploitative, false, flagitious, graceless, heinous, ignoble,… …   Law dictionary

  • immoral — immoral, amoral Both words are applied to people, to people s actions, and to standards of behaviour. Immoral means ‘morally wrong, wicked’, whereas amoral means ‘having no morals’, i.e. ‘outside the scope of morality’ and is strictly neutral in… …   Modern English usage

  • Immoral — Im*mor al, a. [Pref. im not + moral: cf. F. immoral.] Not moral; inconsistent with rectitude, purity, or good morals; contrary to conscience or the divine law; wicked; unjust; dishonest; vicious; licentious; as, an immoral man; an immoral deed.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • immoral — immoral, ale (i mmo ral, ra l ) adj. Qui est sans principe de morale, sans moeurs. Caractère immoral. •   Entassez des monceaux d or sur des monceaux d or; et soyez heureux, si l homme immoral peut l être, RAYNAL Hist. phil. XIX, 6.    En parlant …   Dictionnaire de la Langue Française d'Émile Littré

  • immoral — (adj.) 1650s, from assimilated form of IN (Cf. in ) (1) not + MORAL (Cf. moral) (adj.). Related: Immorally …   Etymology dictionary

  • immoral — [adj] evil, degenerate abandoned, bad, corrupt, debauched, depraved, dishonest, dissipated, dissolute, fast*, graceless, impure, indecent, iniquitous, lewd, licentious, loose*, nefarious, obscene, of easy virtue*, pornographic, profligate, rakish …   New thesaurus

  • immoral — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ not conforming to accepted standards of morality. DERIVATIVES immorality noun (pl. immoralities) immorally adverb …   English terms dictionary

  • immoral — [i môr′əl] adj. [< IN 2 + MORAL] 1. not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior 2. wicked 3. not in conformity with the accepted standards of proper sexual behavior; unchaste; lewd immorally adv …   English World dictionary

  • immoral —    associated with prostitution    Literally, contrary to virtue, but confined to sexual misbehaviour in various legal jargon phrases. Thus immoral earnings, which it is a crime for a pimp to live on, are what a prostitute gets paid:     It would …   How not to say what you mean: A dictionary of euphemisms

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