Amoral vs Immoral: Difference and Comparison

The word ‘moral’ comes from the Latin word ‘morālis’, which means ‘custom’. As an adjective word, moral stands for things or people that follow accepted behaviour or customs. Both the words amoral and immoral are related to morality.

It is quite easy to understand that immoral is the opposite word of moral. But what about amoral? What is the difference between the two words amoral and immoral?

Key Takeaways

  1. Amoral individuals do not consider moral principles when making decisions, whereas immoral people act against moral norms.
  2. Amoral behavior stems from a lack of understanding or awareness of moral values, while immoral behavior involves consciously disregarding them.
  3. Generally, society views immoral actions as worse than amoral ones, as immoral behavior demonstrates a deliberate violation of ethical standards.

Amoral vs Immoral

Amoral means neither moral nor immoral or something that lacks moral sensibility, and Immoral means contrary to established principles or actions that may be corrupt, sinful, unethical or wrong. Immoral things may be bad and amoral things are neutral from a moral perspective.

Amoral vs Immoral

Amoral is an adjective that describes something or someone that is neither immoral nor moral. As an example, we can say infants can be amoral as they do not develop the brain capacity to understand what is right and what is wrong.

In some cases, extreme sociopaths are also considered amoral since they lack a conscience as a result of cognitive disorder. Immoral is an adjective that describes something or someone that does not follow the basic standards of morality.

An immoral person can differentiate what is right and wrong, but they do not follow the right path. Immoral behaviour implies thinking and acting in a way that violates one’s sense of morality.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAmoralImmoral
Definition Amoral implies indifference to morality or lacking a moral sense. It stands for disregard or lack of morality.Immoral means not following the sense of morality despite having an understanding of what is wrong and what is right.
Perspective Amoral represents a neutral position towards the sense of morality, as there is a lack of moral sense.Immoral suggests negative implications.
People Amoral can be used to refer to infants, extreme sociopaths who are suffering a cognitive disorder, etc.Immoral can be used to refer to a cruel, wicked or unethical person who violates his sense of morality.
UsageThe word amoral was introduced to the language by the author named Robert Louis Stephenson in the 19th century.The word immoral has a longer history compared to the word amoral.
Example Infants can be amoral as they do not develop the brain capacity to understand what is right and what is wrong.If a person with mental stability steals someone’s property or asset, it will be considered an immoral act.

What is Amoral?

Amoral is an adjective that describes something or someone that is neither immoral nor moral. The word ‘amoral’ appeared in the late 19th century. The prefix ‘a’ in the word ‘amoral’ means “without” or “not”, as in asymptomatic or atypical.

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Amoral implies indifference to morality or lacking a moral sense. It stands for disregard or lack of morality. The word ‘amoral’ has an interesting root. This word is a combination of Greek and Latin words.

The prefix ‘a’ is a Greek privative prefix that stands for “not”, and the word ‘moral’ is a Latin word. The word was introduced in the 19th century by the English author Robert Louis Stephenson to differentiate the immoral act from it.

As an example, we can say an infant is amoral. They are indifferent to right and wrong. They lack the mental ability to identify right and wrong. In some cases, extreme sociopaths are also considered amoral since they lack a conscience as a result of cognitive disorder. 

However, amoral can be used to describe anything or any person who is not aware of what is the right action and what is the wrong action. It represents a neutral position towards the sense of morality.

amoral

What is Immoral?

Immoral is the complete opposite of moral. Immoral means not following the sense of morality despite having an understanding of what is wrong and what is right. Immoral represents a negative sense and is used to describe a cruel, wicked, evil or unethical person.

An immoral person is aware of what is right and what is wrong but chooses the wrong act and does not follow the sense of morality. Thus, villains in novels and films can be described as immoral. Immoral can be used to refer to a cruel, wicked or unethical person who violates his sense of morality.

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After the formation of immoral, the negative prefix ‘im’ connects with the word ‘moral’. The word immoral is used to describe a behaviour or person that always goes against the accepted standards of morality.

Accepted standards of morality are the ideal beliefs and ideas about how to properly behave in such a way that the majority of people consider it good and right.

The word immoral is a true antonym of morality and connotes the intent of wrongdoing or evilness. For instance, if a person with mental stability steals someone’s property or assets, he or she will be considered immoral.

immoral

Main Differences Between Amoral and Immoral

  1. Amoral implies indifference to morality or lacking a moral sense. Whereas, Immoral means not following the sense of morality despite having an understanding of what is wrong and what is right.
  2. Amoral represents a neutral position towards the sense of morality, but Immoral represents a negative sense and is used to describe a cruel, wicked, evil or unethical person.
  3. Amoral can be used to refer to extreme sociopaths or infants who don’t have any sense of morality. On the other hand, Immoral can be used to refer to a cruel, wicked or unethical person who violates his sense of morality.
  4. The word amoral was introduced in the 19th century by the English author Robert Louis Stephenson to differentiate the immoral act from it. On the other hand, the word immoral has a longer history compared to the word amoral.
  5. The word amoral is neither immoral nor moral, it is somewhere in between these two words where there is the indifference of a sense of morality, whereas immoral is a true antonym of morality.
References
  1. https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/0034408560510607?journalCode=urea20
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=EAYPEAAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PP1&dq=immoral+meaning+&ots=CDEykHogR0&sig=_qnF9DZ6nQ4lQSVx0PKfigfVZ9Y&redir_esc=y

Last Updated : 07 August, 2023

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19 thoughts on “Amoral vs Immoral: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The detailed breakdown of the definitions, perspectives, and contextual usage in this article was incredibly insightful. It was an intellectually enriching read.

    Reply
    • I found the explanations and examples to be profoundly illuminating. This article provides an excellent understanding of the subject matter.

      Reply
  2. I appreciate this deep dive into the nuances of these two words. The clarity provided in this article was very enlightening and helpful to understand the difference between amoral and immoral.

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  10. The distinction made between the perspectives of amoral and immoral is quite clear and well-stated. This article does a great job of explaining the subtle differences between these two terms.

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