Is there a word meaning something that is objectively bad, but that everyone does and, therefore, no one can fault any one else for doing it?

Or, if there isn't, is there a word for this on a personal, one on one, level. Is there a word for something bad that someone has done, but you can't fault them for it because you have also done it?

  • Depending on context, I think you are referring to a human weakness, or a failing of a conventional sort. But, such a word would simply be a form of rationalization based on vox populi (a fallacy).
    – jxh
    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:03
  • 1
    If they say - why, why, just tell 'em that it's human nature (oh, why, why, does he do me that way) --- Michael Jackson
    – user98990
    Jun 3, 2015 at 5:04
  • We also have the rather more aggressive justifications/assertions, "That's the way of the world," "Nobody's perfect," and "Let him who is without sin cast the first stone." And Eliphaz's acquiescent observation to Job, "Man is born to trouble, as the sparks fly upward."
    – Sven Yargs
    Jun 3, 2015 at 22:51

4 Answers 4


In the case of SWR where in fact there is no such single word, it's traditional for someone to formally give the formal: "unfortunately there is no single word for that."

Indeed, it's a good question: something that is objectively bad, but that everyone does ... but I'm pretty sure there is NO single word for that in English.

The only common phrase I can think of is, "everyone does it." It's rather common to hear that, it's idiomatic. Claimed too many expenses? "Everyone does it". Lied on form 3C? "Oh, everyone does that".

The idiom you mention, "I can't fault you for that" in my opinion is not, really, a way to express the concept in your question: it's a bit different.


Try condone

Accept (behaviour that is considered morally wrong or offensive):

But if you condone something, it doesn't imply it's because you do the same thing.

And sating that one 'cannot be faulted for it' is a bit of a stretch to me. It's one thing that they do not. But they can not? I don't think so.

Little Eva's suggestion of human nature is an excellent choice.


I think you are looking for the golden rationalization (also called "Everybody does it").

This rationalization has been used to excuse ethical misconduct since the beginning of civilization. It is based on the flawed assumption that the ethical nature of an act is somehow improved by the number of people who do it, and if "everybody does it," then it is implicitly all right for you to do it as well...


  • Link is dead. A search brings this term up occasionally, but it seems rather obscure. I wonder who coined the term or where it came from.
    – Zebrafish
    Oct 28, 2018 at 14:21

For use in a sentence, try common failing or only/just human nature. Neither is a single word, but they're both idiomatic.

"Pride," observed Mary, who piqued herself upon the solidity of her reflections, "is a very common failing, I believe. - Pride and Prejudice

(and this is a common failing of mankind, never to anticipate a storm when the sea is calm) – Niccolò Machiavelli


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