1752, "moral principles or practice," from French morale "morality, good conduct," from fem. of Old French moral "moral" (see moral (adj.)). Meaning "mental condition as regards confidence, courage, hope, etc." (especially as regards soldiers, sailors, or any body of persons engaged in a hazardous enterprise) is recorded by 1831, from confusion with French moral (Modern French distinguishes le moral "temperament" and la morale "morality").
updated on February 23, 2019