I'm looking for a word to describe someone who is very driven by morality, constantly trying to do what they believe is morally right.

This word would be used in a sentence like "I really admire her; she truly is a (...) person."

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    What is wrong with the word moral? Unless you can explain why it doesn't fit, there can be nothing other than a list of random synonyms given. (And you can use a thesaurus as easily as any of us for that.) – Jason Bassford Jul 2 '18 at 19:36
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    She is morality driven. – Lambie Jul 2 '18 at 19:37
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    I've added a few to supplement the Thesaurus list, but "virtuous" works best for this example, imo – DukeZhou Jul 2 '18 at 20:31
  • Everybody is driven by morality, the problem is that every person has their own. So the problem is not the word, but conveying your interpretation of it. – Agent_L Jul 3 '18 at 8:06
  • "Paragon of morality" could also work, if they are exceptionally moral, and viewed as an example to follow by others. – Bradley Uffner Jul 3 '18 at 11:40

is probably the strongest and most direct

is another important one

are also venerable terms

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    Beware that "righteous" and "high-minded" both have some negative connotations. – piojo Jul 3 '18 at 8:34
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    @piojo "Self-righteous" is negative, but I believe "righteous" only takes a negative connotation from its context. It's widely used in a positive sense. Do you have some examples to the contrary? – erickson Jul 3 '18 at 15:48
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    @piojo agree strongly, re: context. "Righteous!" has even become a slang term used in the same manner as "awesome!" – DukeZhou Jul 3 '18 at 16:18
  • @erickson I may have been projecting my own biases onto "righteous", as that connotation seems to exist more in my head than in things I've read. But certainly it has religious connotations, which must be where my negative impression comes from. – piojo Jul 3 '18 at 16:29
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    @piojo Context is everything, as you point out! Righteous has also found usage in detective fiction. Specifically, where a cop engages in the extra-judicial killing of a perpetrator, if the perpetrator is known to be guilty, it is known as a "righteous kill". – DukeZhou Jul 3 '18 at 17:55

Roget's Thesaurus offers the following:

  • virtuous
  • moral
  • upright
  • ethical
  • honorable
  • principled
  • honest

Those words may have slightly different connotations, but they all essentially mean that the person is trustworthy because of their moral fiber.

  • It would be nice to know why this answer was downvoted, since it answers the question and the OP found it helpful. If there is a problem with it, I will be happy to edit. – ScottM Jul 2 '18 at 19:37
  • This is better than the currently accepted answer, which contains words with negative connotations. – piojo Jul 3 '18 at 8:35

Someone who is zealous about something has a lot of passion for it. Someone who is morally zealous would be someone who is all about sticking to their moral principles:

I really admire her. She truly is a morally zealous person.

  • I would say "morally zealous" works, but "moral zealot" (particularly the "zealot" part) can have a negative connotation. – ScottM Jul 2 '18 at 19:41
  • @ScottM You're right. I'll delete that. Thank you. – Michael Rybkin Jul 2 '18 at 19:42
  • I don't think I've ever seen the word "zealous" used to mean something positive. – Nye Jul 3 '18 at 8:39
  • @Nye I guess that has to do with the fact that we tend to think of extremes as something inherently negative. – Michael Rybkin Jul 3 '18 at 9:26
  • @Nye Providing a "zealous defense" is generally considered a positive trait for an attorney. – barbecue Jul 3 '18 at 15:37

For completeness:

I assume from your example you are looking for a positive word. As others have already provided examples of this, I won't add to them. However there is an expression with a usually negative connotation that fits and hasn't been suggested:

goody two-shoes

To paraphrase Adam Ant: They don't drink, they don't smoke - what do they do?

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    I wouldn't say goody two-shoes implies driven by morality, but rather that one is insistent on following the rules. Morality goes above the rules imposed on us by society or other social or systematical structures. – ChickenFeet Jul 3 '18 at 8:00
  • @ChickenFeet Possibly, however 'define goody two-shoes' in google gives: an ostentatiously virtuous or well-behaved person, and there's nothing in Mr Ant's lyric suggesting the protagonist is a rule-breaker. Also I don't think 'rules imposed on us by social structures' and 'morality' are that different in definition. – mcalex Jul 3 '18 at 8:02
  • I do agree in most cases following the rules also means doing the morally right thing, albeit not always. I would argue morality is derived primarily from philosophy. Philosophy and in-place rules certainly do not define one another. – ChickenFeet Jul 3 '18 at 8:23

I really admire her, she truly is a good person.


2a (1) : virtuous, right, commendable a good person


If you want to lean towards a negative connotation (which, admittedly, does not fit your example sentence):

do-gooder: A well-meaning but unrealistic or interfering philanthropist or reformer.

In German there's also the (rather condescending) word Gutmensch (literally: good human) which I thought was in use in English as well, but neither the usual dictionaries nor google ngram know about it..

  • mensch is frequently used in American English and the term is also found in dictionaries. I "think" you can use it for women too, but maybe you could use it to write a question. – Mari-Lou A Jul 3 '18 at 8:14

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