qualm

noun
\ 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 also  ˈkwȯ-​ or  ˈkwäl-​ How to pronounce qualmy (audio) \ 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

Prince William apparently had qualms about Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's relationship at one point, People reports. Erica Gonzales, Harper's BAZAAR, "Prince William Reportedly Thought Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Relationship Was Moving Too Fast," 11 Apr. 2019 National security adviser John Bolton said last week that Washington had no qualms with the idea, despite two decades of Western opposition. Drew Hinshaw, WSJ, "U.S., Germany at Odds Over Serbia-Kosovo Land Swap," 31 Aug. 2018 Urubko felt no qualms about turning his back on K2, at least temporarily, in order to help his friends on Nanga. National Geographic, "Meet the super climbers who came to the rescue on the 'Killer Mountain'," 12 June 2019 Pentagon leaders subsequently argued that Google has no similar qualms about its technology assisting the Chinese government. Matthew Gault, The New Republic, "The U.S. Government Is Utterly Inept at Keeping Your Data Secure," 12 June 2019 Yet soon after leaving the stage, Katherine pulls off her Manolo Blahniks and complains about the qualms of high heels. Lindsay Weinberg, The Hollywood Reporter, "'Late Night' Costume Designer Breaks Down Emma Thompson's Power Pantsuits," 7 June 2019 Seventeen’s Ultimate Guide to College is a one-stop-shop for all of your college queries, concerns, and qualms. Alison Caporimo, Seventeen, "Seventeen's New College Issue Will Help You Crush The Next 4 Years," 14 May 2019 But several workshop participants raised qualms about Bayesian confirmation theory, and about Dawid’s non-empirical arguments in particular. Quanta Magazine, "A Fight for the Soul of Science," 16 Dec. 2015 However, the 55-year-old actress and comedian has no qualms about keeping it real and taking on more difficult topics. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Lisa Kudrow Opens Up About Her Body Insecurity on the Friends Set," 21 May 2019

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

6 Jul 2019

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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 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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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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