\ 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

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 are not sure how qualm came to be, but early use of the word is for a sudden sick feeling. It then was used for a sudden attack of emotion. Today, qualm usually refers to a feeling of 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 One qualm is that the existing laws governing the dignity realm are said to be somewhat nebulous and overly malleable, thus not well-tuned to the specific legal construct of a right of exception. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 3 Aug. 2022 The only qualm was with how easily the sheets wrinkle, but that’s not a dealbreaker for us. Madison Yauger, Peoplemag, 5 Aug. 2022 My only qualm is that the pockets, which are very stretchy with large openings, are not very secure—my phone once fell dangerously close to a pee puddle. Outside Online, 24 June 2021 His main qualm is with the $7,500 student loan cap workers can get to earn credentials in fields like logistics, construction and IT. Casey Smith, chicagotribune.com, 28 Dec. 2021 Another qualm relates to the number of miles of driving on your neighborhood streets. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 10 Oct. 2021 One qualm is that this can lead to RVs packed together like sardines. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 17 Sep. 2021 Most folk, out-take Nack, reckoned the qualm was a tale the priests wrought up to wring out our silver. Clair Wills, The New York Review of Books, 16 Jan. 2020 Yet another qualm is that people might misbehave while traveling inside a self-driving car. Lance Eliot, Forbes, 26 May 2021 See More

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.

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

29 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Qualm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qualm. Accessed 3 Oct. 2022.

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More Definitions for qualm


\ 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

Nglish: Translation of qualm for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of qualm for Arabic Speakers


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