\ 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 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 Our one qualm with the Fire TV Stick 4K is the Fire OS platform. Jacob Krol, CNN Underscored, "The best streaming sticks and devices of 2020," 31 July 2020 Tonight: Listen to a friend’s qualms about a personal matter. BostonGlobe.com, "Horoscope," 20 May 2020 McGovern proposed several technological innovations, but ran into qualms from traditionalists and technophobes in both parties. Los Angeles Times, "Column: Congress mirrors a divided America on reopening amid coronavirus crisis," 3 May 2020 Our chief soccer correspondent explores the qualms. Isabella Kwai, New York Times, "Coronavirus, Italy, Kim Jong-un: Your Monday Briefing," 27 Apr. 2020 In a post shared on Instagram, Kerman introduces the world to Dylan, a young man with an impeccable sense of fashion and absolutely no qualms about outshining his host. Melissa Locker, Time, "History Buff Special Guest Upstages a Rock Musician During a Live Interview," 22 Apr. 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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Cite this Entry

“Qualm.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/qualm. Accessed 21 Jan. 2021.

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More Definitions for qualm


How to pronounce qualm (audio) How to pronounce qualm (audio)

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.

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