Wrong Word Wednesday #7

Every week I will demonstrate an example of poor English where a different word is used from the one intended. Sometimes this creates a grammatically incorrect sentence. Unfortunately, the mistake is usually so pervasive that we all do it and such errors are usually made by those who should know better – journalists working for national or global media outlets such as newspapers and television.

Amoral / Immoral

I’ve heard the former used in some strange contexts – as though describing something as “amoral” makes it worse than immoral. But it isn’t, the words are different with slightly different contexts. They are not to be used interchangeably or to create a hierarchy of moral actions.

Immoral means knowingly doing something that is wrong – deliberately going against a stricture.

Amoral means to lack any moral compass, an action that is carried out without any sense of consideration that it is right or wrong. I found a great example on vocabulary.com about the context in which amoral ought to be used:

If you wonder why anyone would buy the more expensive “fair trade” coffee, you probably make buying decisions amorally.

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