What Does Ethical Mean?

So what does ‘Ethical’ mean?

The word ’Ethical’ has been used in the English language much more in recent years.  In my 1978 Oxford English Dictionary the definition (apart from the one about medicines available by prescription only) it is defined and ‘morally correct’.  By the time we get to my 1990 copy which is, admittedly much bigger, it also includes ‘relating to morals in human conduct’ and ‘honourable’.

I looked it up on Google and found the only reference to the environment I could discover:  ‘Avoiding activities or organizations that do harm to people or the environment’.  This was a massive surprise to me as I thought this was the definition we all use the most.  Apparently I was wrong (I often am).

Other definitions were:

Dictionary.com – being in accordance with the rules or standards for right conduct or practice

Merriam Webster – involving or expressing moral approval or disapproval

Vocabulary.com – someone who is honest and follows good moral standards

But my very favourite is from the Urban Dictionary:

A word that some companies use to describe themselves as a PR stunt whilst actually being just as evil as all the other big profit-hunting corporations.


So I decided to come up with my own – this is what it means to me:

To live ethically is to be kind

Of course to be kind can take many forms but essentially it means to me to always act in a way which is right, whether that is by helping others, being good to the environment or supporting those who need it, and not causing harm to the world and the people in it.

What does ethical mean to you?




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