• morale •
Pronunciation: mê-ræl • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: The state of our spirits, the level of confidence in what we are doing.
Notes: The disadvantage of being almost identical with another word is that derivations based on the same suffixes tend to get confused. Morale avoids that confusion by conceding all derivations, like morality and morally to moral. There are no adjectives or verbs derived from today's word. Just remember the final E makes a difference in the pronunciation of these words: morale[moræl] but moral [morêl]. (Click the pronunciations to hear them.)
In Play: Today's Good Word is used most often in referring to the spirits of some group: "Hearing on the financial news that the chief financial officer of the company is resigning is not good for company morale." In his 1874 novel, Phineas Redux, Anthony Trollope observed that "[t]he morale of our aristocracy...would be at a low ebb indeed if the public press didn't act as their guardians." Yet and still, this word may refer to individual morale: "Lionel's unexpected salary raise lifted his morale more than his standard of living."
Word History: Today's Good Word is a variant of moral. In fact, it set out as the feminine (morale) variant of the masculine form moral in French. The French root comes from Latin moralis "moral, ethical", an adjective based on mo(r)s "habit, manner, custom". The root mo- came to Old English with the suffix -t, which changed to -d, resulting in mod "mind, disposition". Today it is mood. In Old High German the same word was muot "mind, spirit", which ended up in Modern German gemütlich "amiable, pleasant". (Today we owe a debt of gratitude to the most amiable and pleasant Barbara Coon for boosting our morale with the spirited Good Word she suggested for today.)