Ethos vs. Ethic - What's the difference?

Main Difference

The main difference between Ethos and Ethic is that the Ethos is a Greek word for "character" and Ethic is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct.


Ethos ( or US: ) is a Greek word meaning "character" that is used to describe the guiding beliefs or ideals that characterize a community, nation, or ideology. The Greeks also used this word to refer to the power of music to influence emotions, behaviours, and even morals. Early Greek stories of Orpheus exhibit this idea in a compelling way. The word's use in rhetoric is closely based on the Greek terminology used by Aristotle in his concept of the three artistic proofs.


Ethics or moral philosophy is a branch of philosophy that involves systematizing, defending, and recommending concepts of right and wrong conduct. The term ethics derives from Ancient Greek ἠθικός (ethikos), from ἦθος (ethos), meaning 'habit, custom'. The branch of philosophy axiology comprises the sub-branches of ethics and aesthetics, each concerned with values. Ethics seeks to resolve questions of human morality by defining concepts such as good and evil, right and wrong, virtue and vice, justice and crime. As a field of intellectual enquiry, moral philosophy also is related to the fields of moral psychology, descriptive ethics, and value theory. Three major areas of study within ethics recognized today are: Meta-ethics, concerning the theoretical meaning and reference of moral propositions, and how their truth values (if any) can be determined Normative ethics, concerning the practical means of determining a moral course of action Applied ethics, concerning what a person is obligated (or permitted) to do in a specific situation or a particular domain of action

Ethos vs. Ethic



1. Etymology

From Ancient Greek ἦθος (êthos, character; custom, habit).

2. Pronunciation

  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈiːθɒs/
  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈiːθoʊs/

3. Noun

ethos (plural ethe or ethea or ethoses)

  1. The character or fundamental values of a person, people, culture, or movement.
  2. (rhetoric) A form of rhetoric in which the writer or speaker invokes their authority, competence or expertise in an attempt to persuade others that their view is correct.
  3. (aesthetics) The traits in a work of art which express the ideal or typic character, as influenced by the ethos (character or fundamental values) of a people, rather than realistic or emotional situations or individual character in a narrow sense; opposed to pathos.

3.1. See also

  • logos
  • pathos
  • zeitgeist

4. Anagrams

  • Theos, shote, sothe, those


1. Alternative forms

  • ethick (obsolete)

2. Etymology

From Old French ethique, from Late Latin ethica, from Ancient Greek ἠθική (ēthikḗ), from ἠθικός (ēthikós, of or for morals, moral, expressing character), from ἦθος (êthos, character, moral nature).

3. Pronunciation

  • IPA(key): /ˈɛθɪk/

4. Adjective

ethic (comparative more ethic, superlative most ethic)

  1. Moral, relating to morals.

5. Noun

ethic (plural ethics)

  1. A set of principles of right and wrong behaviour guiding, or representative of, a specific culture, society, group, or individual.
    I think the golden rule is a great ethic.
  2. The morality of an action. (Can we add an example for this sense?)
  • ethical
  • ethics
  • ethos

6. See also

  • ethic dative

7. Further reading

  • ethic in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913
  • ethic in The Century Dictionary, The Century Co., New York, 1911
  • “ethic” at OneLook Dictionary Search

8. Anagrams

  • Citeh, etchi, theic
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