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I'm not exactly sure what モラハラ is. All I can tell is that it's strongly associated with workplace bullying. But I don't really understand how "moral harassment" might be a thing. Is it kind of like how someone takes a holier-than-thou attitude and treats another person like they're good-for-nothing? Or is it something like "Look how hard Yamada-san works. You need to do a better job and care more about your work"?

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  • Generally speaking, it's probably best to tackle wasei-eigo without the assumption that the phrase should necessarily make sense when converted to English. Did you read a monolingual definition?
    – Leebo
    Commented Apr 25 at 1:53
  • I don't think it is really a question in Japanese language. This looks the definition in French law legifrance.gouv.fr/codes/article_lc/LEGIARTI000006417711/…
    – sundowner
    Commented Apr 25 at 2:21
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    This is quite a recent word, and I also don't know its correct meaning without searching. All I know is that it's something used in the context of boss-employee relationships. But I don't really understand why this term came into use with this specific meaning... All types of harassment are related to moral, aren't they?
    – naruto
    Commented Apr 25 at 3:13

2 Answers 2

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IMO it’s most commonly used in marriage (since in a working relationship perhaps パワハラ is more common).

The stereotypical example is モラハラ夫 who insults, controls or harms his wife/children. E.g. having a bad mood when coming home from work, yelling at wife for not keeping the house tidy, humiliating his children for not having high enough exam results, bad mouthing the spouses family, saying the children have inherited bad traits from the wife’s side of family that sort of things.

The difference with パワハラ is that there is no formal “power” relationship (e.g. boss vs subordinate, professor vs student etc).

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I suppose the other answers give the idea, but here's what can be gleaned from Wikipedia. I put the relevant quotes at bottom.

Firstly, it is originally French, and note that French moral covers both ethical (as opposed to immoral) and (adjective of) morale (i.e., mental as opposed to physical).

So, it is easier to understand it as continuous mental pressuring of some sorts, like your example of pressuring1. In this sense, a typical example would be just keep insulting someone at a work place, instead of physically punching and kicking, which wouldn't be normally seen at office.

At the same time, the bullying side often does it like doing it as a favor or at least suggesting that they are ethically correct (like "Working hard like X-san is ethically good. Why aren't you doing that?" or, in case of モラハラ夫, "I'm doing this to educate you towards the right direction"), which is another reason it is called "moral harassment"2 (this time, moral in the sense of ethical).


A similar word formation can be seen in ロジハラ, logical harassment. I've never seen it used except as a kind of joke, but it means (overly) logically refuting someone. In terms of comparison with モラハラ, the definition/typical instance "自分の意見が正論だと思い込んでいる" would be relevant. Like a person doing ロジハラ is obsessed with refuting others and keeps repeating their opinions on the assumption that they are logically correct, a person doing モラハラ keeps pressuring someone (=bullied) on the assumption that they are morally correct.


1 社会は精神的な暴力に対しては対応が甘いが、精神的な暴力は肉体的な暴力と同じ程度に、場合によっては肉体的な暴力以上に人を傷つけるもので犯罪であると述べる

2 加害者は道徳家のように振舞うことが多い。

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