We say "a lesson 'in' something". What is the acceptable preposition to be used with "moral" as a synonymous noun with "message" or "lesson"?

The most common collocation is "the moral 'of' the story," but "of" here conveys the idea that there is a lesson motivating the story, a lesson "behind" the story. I want to use "moral", however, to introduce what the lesson is about. I thought of "a moral 'about' compassion," but apart from that I have never heard that construct before, it sounds to my ear less powerful than "a lesson in compassion."

Thank you.

1 Answer 1


The problem is that we wouldn't use "moral" that way.

The reason "the moral of the story is ..." is used is that that is what a moral is... it's the lesson a story is supposed to teach the listener/reader.

You might have a "lesson on compassion" but the moral is a statement or an idea.

"The moral of this lesson is: be compassionate"

From Wikipedia:

A moral (from Latin morālis) is a message conveyed or a lesson to be learned from a story or event. The moral may be left to the hearer, reader or viewer to determine for themselves, or may be explicitly encapsulated in a maxim.

As an example of an explicit maxim, at the end of Aesop's fable of the Tortoise and the Hare, in which the plodding and determined tortoise wins a race against the much-faster yet extremely arrogant hare, the stated moral is "slow and steady wins the race". However, other morals can often be taken from the story itself; for instance, that arrogance or overconfidence in one's abilities may lead to failure or the loss of an event, race, or contest.


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