\ ˈkwäm How to pronounce qualm (audio) also ˈkwȯm or ˈkwälm How to pronounce qualm (audio) \

Definition of qualm

1 : a feeling of uneasiness about a point especially of conscience or propriety had no qualms about asking for their help It was about an enduring secular world where people did unspeakable things, seemingly without qualm and without any grave consequences to themselves.— Jim Holt
2 : a sudden feeling of usually disturbing emotion (such as doubt or fear) I had a qualm of absolute horror, and shuddered; and then the emotion was immediately repressed or suppressed.— Oliver Sacks
3 : a sudden attack of illness, faintness, or nausea The doctor seemed seized with a qualm of faintness.— Robert Louis Stevenson

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Other Words from qualm

qualmy \ ˈkwä-​mē How to pronounce qualm (audio) also  ˈkwȯ-​ or  ˈkwäl-​ \ adjective

Choose the Right Synonym for qualm

qualm, scruple, compunction, demur mean a misgiving about what one is doing or going to do. qualm implies an uneasy fear that one is not following one's conscience or better judgment. no qualms about plagiarizing scruple implies doubt of the rightness of an act on grounds of principle. no scruples against buying stolen goods compunction implies a spontaneous feeling of responsibility or compassion for a potential victim. had compunctions about lying demur implies hesitation caused by objection to an outside suggestion or influence. accepted her decision without demur

Did You Know?

Etymologists aren't sure where qualm originated, but they do know it entered English around 1530. Originally, it referred to a sudden sick feeling. Robert Louis Stevenson made use of this older sense in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: A qualm came over me, a horrid nausea and the most deadly shuddering. Soon after qualm entered the language, it came to designate not only sudden attacks of illness, but also sudden attacks of emotion or principle. In The Sketch Book, for example, Washington Irving wrote, Immediately after one of these fits of extravagance, he will be taken with violent qualms of economy.... Eventually, qualm took on the specific (and now most common) meaning of doubt or uneasiness, particularly in not following one's conscience or better judgment.

Examples of qualm in a Sentence

He accepted their offer without a qualm. she has no qualms about downloading pirated music files from the Internet
Recent Examples on the Web Stephen Colbert has a major qualm with Zack Snyder's Justice League, a.k.a. the Snyder Cut. Nick Romano, EW.com, "Stephen Colbert plays Lex Luthor in his own Snyder Cut post-credits scene," 23 Mar. 2021 Before things got more serious with Shane Dawson my biggest qualm was just how much of the stuff in there wasn’t true. Madison Malone Kircher, Vulture, "The Receipt-Keeper of YouTube," 3 Mar. 2021 Another slight qualm here: there is literally no way a house this big wouldn't have a private master bathroom for Georgia, so feels like a pretty contrived conflict. Jean Bentley, refinery29.com, "R29 Recaps: Every Episode From Ginny & Georgia Season 1," 3 Mar. 2021 The general qualm is that strong inflation and on-going support from stimulus relief packages will trigger the Fed's immature action— a rise in interest rates. Naeem Aslam, Forbes, "Why U.S. Stocks Are Selling Off, And Is This An Opportunity?," 26 Feb. 2021 Our big qualm with it is that Xbox is still using AA batteries. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The Xbox Series S gives you a next-gen experience that doesn’t disappoint for $299," 5 Nov. 2020 Our only small qualm would be the base storage is just 32GBs and, for most users, that should be alright. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The Eighth-Gen iPad hits a home run with a faster processor and an approachable design," 24 Sep. 2020 If anything, our only small qualm is with call quality, but that’s not a reason not to get the Galaxy Buds Live. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "Samsung’s Galaxy Buds Live are clear winners with a unique design, strong sound and long battery life," 6 Aug. 2020 Hyde’s greatest qualm with replacing Sulser is the lack of alternatives. Nathan Ruiz, baltimoresun.com, "Orioles reset: Even in a competitive season, Sunday’s trades show focus remains beyond 2020," 31 Aug. 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'qualm.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of qualm

circa 1530, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for qualm

origin unknown

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The first known use of qualm was circa 1530

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Last Updated

26 Mar 2021

Cite this Entry

“Qualm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qualm. Accessed 16 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for qualm



English Language Learners Definition of qualm

: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about whether you are doing the right thing


\ ˈkwäm How to pronounce qualm (audio) , ˈkwälm \

Kids Definition of qualm

: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty especially in matters of right and wrong She had no qualms about lying.

More from Merriam-Webster on qualm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for qualm

Nglish: Translation of qualm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of qualm for Arabic Speakers

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