Mores (/ˈmɔːreɪz/ sometimes /ˈmɔːriːz/; from
[ˈmoːreːs], plural form of singular mōs, meaning "manner",
"custom", "usage", "habit") was introduced from English into American
William Graham Sumner
William Graham Sumner (1840–1910), an early U.S.
sociologist, to refer to social norms that are widely observed and are
considered to have greater moral significance than others. Mores
include an aversion for societal taboos, such as incest. The mores
of a society usually predicate legislation prohibiting their taboos.
Often, countries will employ specialized vice squads or vice police
engaged in suppressing specific crimes offending the societal mores.
Folkways, in sociology, are norms for routine or casual interaction.
This includes ideas about appropriate greetings and proper dress in
In short, mores "distinguish the difference between right and wrong,
while folkways draw a line between right and rude".
Both "mores" and "folkways" are terms coined by William Graham Sumner
Look up mores in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.
3 See also
The English word morality comes from the same
Latin root "mōrēs", as
does the English noun moral. However, mores do not, as is commonly
supposed, necessarily carry connotations of morality. Rather, morality
can be seen as a subset of mores, held to be of central importance in
view of their content, and often formalized in some kind of moral
The Greek terms equivalent to
Latin mores are ethos (ἔθος,
ἦθος, "character") or nomos (νόμος, "law"). As with the
relation of mores to morality, ethos is the basis of the term ethics,
nomos give the suffix -onomy, as in astronomy.
The meaning of all these terms extend to all customs of proper
behavior in a given society, both religious and profane, from more
trivial conventional aspects of custom, etiquette or
politeness—"folkways" enforced by gentle social pressure, but going
beyond mere "folkways" or conventions in including moral codes and
notions of justice—down to strict taboos, behavior that is
unthinkable within the society in question, very commonly including
incest and murder, but also the commitment of outrages specific to the
individual society such as blasphemy. Such religious or sacral customs
While cultural universals are by definition part of the mores of every
society (hence also called "empty universals"), the customary norms
specific to a given society are a defining aspect of the cultural
identity of an ethnicity or a nation. Coping with the differences
between two sets of cultural conventions is a question of
Differences in the mores of various nations are at the root of ethnic
stereotype, or in the case of reflection upon one's own mores,
Euthyphro dilemma, discussing the conflict of sacral and secular mores
Nihonjinron "Japanese mores"
Political and Moral Sociology: see
Luc Boltanski and French Pragmatism
Value (personal and cultural)
^ "mores". The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
(5th ed.). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2014.
^ a b c d Macionis, John J.; Gerber, Linda Marie (2010). Sociology (7
ed.). Pearson Education Canada. p. 65.
^ Sumner, William Graham (1906). Keller, Albert Galloway, ed.
Folkways: A Study of the Sociological Importance of Usages, Manners,
Customs, Mores, and Morals. Ginn. p. 692.