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 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

If dryness and dullness are your biggest skin qualms, cica is here for those issues, too. Devon Abelman, Allure, "Why Cica Is the Latest K-Beauty Ingredient Taking Over Skin-Care Products," 14 Aug. 2018 Council, however, has publicly expressed qualms about fulfilling the mayor’s full request for schools, which would almost certainly be tied to a property-tax hike. Barbara Laker, Philly.com, "Without $700M, Philly might not be able to fix crumbling schools, Hite and Kenney say," 22 May 2018 Our biggest qualms with the reference versions of the Radeon RX Vega cards related to their high power consumption and temperatures, as well as wild, banshee-like noise levels. Brad Chacos, PCWorld, "These rare deals drop custom Radeon Vega 56 and 64 graphics cards below MSRP, with 3 free games," 21 Sep. 2018 Clearly the singer had no qualms about making a pointed fashion statement. Liana Satenstein, Vogue, "Jennifer Lopez Takes the Exposed Thong Trend To the Next Level," 16 Nov. 2018 Broadhurst likes Lululemon’s Ta Ta Tamer, especially for busty women, and has no qualms about wearing Victoria’s Secret seamless underwear into the woods because it’s made with polyester and elastane, which are both quick-drying. Colleen Stinchcombe, SELF, "7 Tips for Packing All the Right Clothing for Your First Backpacking Trip," 24 Oct. 2018 Durkan and the Seattle City Council had no such qualms. Daniel Beekman, The Seattle Times, "Hosting 2026 World Cup would cost Seattle millions, but almost all money would be recovered, city says," 22 Oct. 2018 What's more is that LED therapy with antimicrobial blue light has been known to be highly effective in treating severe acne, which Jenner has suffered from in the past—and had zero qualms about getting real about it. Lauren Valenti, Vogue, "Kendall Jenner Just Got a Mindblowing Birthday Gift From Her Sisters," 8 Nov. 2018 The guidelines seem designed to protect a player like Gardner, who has forged an 11-year career as a hard-nosed outfielder with few qualms about throwing his body around and is prideful enough to try to insist on playing through injuries. New York Times, "A Hard Collision, but No Concussion Check, for Yankees’ Brett Gardner," 27 June 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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Statistics for qualm

Last Updated

19 Jan 2019

Look-up Popularity

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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