qualm

noun
\ ˈkwäm also ˈkwȯm or ˈkwälm \

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 alsoˈkwȯ- orˈkwäl- \ 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

If Kavanaugh is confirmed, his past qualms with the CFPB and his perceived deregulatory bent have consumer advocates on edge. Emily Stewart, Vox, "Consumer advocacy groups are extremely worried about Brett Kavanaugh," 11 July 2018 When your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war? Washington Post, "UN: 10,000 children killed, maimed in conflicts worldwide," 27 June 2018 When your own house or your school can be attacked without qualms, when traditional safe-havens become targets, how can boys and girls escape the brutality of war? Satoshi Sugiyama, New York Times, "U.N. Reports Sharp Increase in Children Killed or Maimed in Conflicts," 27 June 2018 No qualms with USC DE Rasheem Green in Round 3, but the decision to virtually ignore the corner and offensive line (again) crops is puzzling. Nate Davis, USA TODAY, "NFL draft grades 2018: Which teams had best, worst classes?," 28 Apr. 2018 The people who upload the videos, however, and those who come after any woman foolish enough to argue against him, have no such qualms. Laurie Penny, Longreads, "Peterson’s Complaint," 12 July 2018 It’s also driven by a man, and Justin’s BFF, Carl Lentz, who has no qualms about perpetuating Hillsong’s deeply homophobic platform. Mariah Smith, The Cut, "Like Everything, Justin Bieber and Hailey Baldwin’s Relationship Is Connected to the Kardashians," 11 July 2018 Now that the Office of War Information mandated that all motion pictures should on some level support the Allied war effort, several of the major studios suddenly had no qualms about making movies that tipped their hat to our Soviet allies. Noah Isenberg, The New Republic, "Making the Movies Un-American," 3 July 2018 Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger quite obviously has no qualms with former player Alexis Sanchez. SI.com, "Arsene Wenger & Alexis Sanchez Embrace as Old Friends in Emotional Day at Old Trafford," 30 Apr. 2018

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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Last Updated

31 Aug 2018

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Time Traveler for qualm

The first known use of qualm was circa 1530

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More Definitions for qualm

qualm

noun

English Language Learners Definition of qualm

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

qualm

noun
\ ˈkwäm , ˈkwälm \

Kids Definition of qualm

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

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More from Merriam-Webster on qualm

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for qualm

Spanish Central: Translation of qualm

Nglish: Translation of qualm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of qualm for Arabic Speakers

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