Welcome to About This Word, where Wordsmyth showcases commentary about words our users and staff find interesting. Today’s word: “amoral.


“Amoral” actions lack a moral distinction or moral standards. So the opposite of an “amoral” person would be a “principled” person.  

In The News

At the beginning of 2019, Google searches for the definition of “amoral” increased 4300%.

Utah Senator Mitt Romney published an opinion piece in the New York Times. As a result, his comments drew an “amoral” response from many in the Republican party. Then, they responded to Senator Romney’s disagreement with current Republican allegiances to the President.

After that article was published, comments from former American Senator Harry Reid condemned the behavior and decisions of President Donald Trump. Senator Reid stated that the President’s actions lack conscience.

“Immoral” vs. “Amoral”

Both “immoral” and “amoral” share the Latin root modes, which means “custom.” Similarly, both words concern deviation from societal customs and standards.

Prefixes and connotations show the difference between these words. “Immoral” actions knowingly deviate from traditional standards of right and wrong. Therefore, by committing these actions, one acknowledges some kind of wrongdoing.

On the other hand, “amoral” actions lack concern for what is right or wrong. An amoral person doesn’t care or consider the moral or ethical aspects of what they’ve done. So they believe their actions are neither good nor bad.

Philosophy professor Joseph Porter offers his commentary on this distinction.

The Republican party’s response to Senator Romney ignores his ethical concerns regarding the president’s conduct. Similarly, Senator Reid suggests the President does not care for the moral implications of his decisions.

What do you think about the recent spike in searches for “amoral?” Have something to say about the difference between “immoral” and “amoral”? Got a word in the news you’d like to share? Let us know through our Facebook, Twitter, or feedback page.

Until next time, Happy Wordsmything!