A noun that means "things you should do"

I have been looking for a word for a few months now, and I have just not been able to find it. Things you have to do can be called “obligations,” (and they usually are) but what about things that are without much doubt the best course of action but that you still don’t have to do? Things like eating your vegetables or not being a jackass.

Any suggestions you might have would be greatly appreciated.

moral imperative? I think we have a moral imperative to not be a jackass…



“Expectations” doesn’t work. After all, I might expect you to do something really phenomenally stupid. That doesn’t mean you should.

Prudent actions.

I suppose one could coin something like “Prudencies”




Joy-killers? :smiley:

The fact that English doesn’t have an easy word for these is interesting enough. I am sure in German there is a word that is super long and translates to something like “stuff your mother makes you feel bad for not doing.”




Why do you want a single word to express a relatively complex concept? “Things a person should do” may seem unwieldy, but it zeroes in on the idea, where any one-word approximation will be just that: an approximation.


When I took Ethics in college, I learned the concept of “supererogatory.” Mandatory things are the ones you have a moral imperative to do; supererogatory things are the ones that it’s nice for you to do, but that aren’t morally required.

The dog petting thread (which I assume inspired this thread) made me remember learning this. In my opinion, giving an explanation would be supererogatory. Nice, but not required. An “extra.”

I think resposibilities best suits the term for one word used in the broadest sense.


If anyone knows the answer, I trust that they will do the needful.

I think they could be called oughts. Something that should be done, but doesn’t quite qualify as “must be done.”
However, philosophers of ethics use oughts interchangeably with duties, and duties to me are closer to musts than shoulds.

So maybe we need to get po-mo and coin a confusingly similar word. How about oughtas? :slight_smile:

Well, the Latin word is agenda.