Definition of qualm
1 : a sudden attack of illness, faintness, or nausea
2 : a sudden access of usually disturbing emotion (as doubt or fear)
3 : a feeling of uneasiness about a point especially of conscience or propriety
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>
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.
Origin and Etymology of qualm
First Known Use: circa 1530
Synonym Discussion of qualm
QUALM Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of qualm for English Language Learners
: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty about whether you are doing the right thing
QUALM Defined for Kids
Definition of qualm for Students
: a feeling of doubt or uncertainty especially in matters of right and wrong <She had no qualms about lying.>
Seen and Heard
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