querulous

adjective

quer·​u·​lous ˈkwer-yə-ləs How to pronounce querulous (audio)
-ə-ləs,
 also  ˈkwir-
1
: habitually complaining
2
: fretful, whining
a querulous voice
querulously adverb
querulousness noun

Did you know?

English speakers have called fretful whiners querulous since late medieval times. The Middle English form of the word, querelose, was an adaptation of the Latin adjective, querulus, which in turn evolved from the Latin verb queri, meaning "to complain." Queri is also an ancestor of the English words quarrel and quarrelsome, but it isn't an ancestor of the noun query, meaning "question." No need to complain that we're being coy; we're happy to let you know that query descends from the Latin verb quaerere, meaning "to ask."

Examples of querulous in a Sentence

car trips that were frequently spoiled by a couple of querulous passengers in the back
Recent Examples on the Web Trying to Kill Each Other' And Walken is marvelous — querulous, petty, cruel — as the Emperor. Tom Gliatto, Peoplemag, 29 Feb. 2024 Instead, Gerwig and Baumbach promote querulous sloganeering. Armond White, National Review, 19 July 2023 The most salutary change was Kelsey, who turned from Rigoletto to Amonasro, and who gave his trademark smoky tone and aura of threat to a role that, earlier in the month, George Gagnidze had rendered merely tight and querulous. Zachary Woolfe, New York Times, 11 Jan. 2023 One came across as a quiet, reserved, eloquent, thoughtful force of nature; the other as a boisterous, querulous, troublemaking and sometimes thoughtless and mean force of nature. Los Angeles Times, 26 July 2022 Today those late, querulous paintings are counted among the most influential American artworks of the twentieth century. Susan Tallman, The New York Review of Books, 14 Jan. 2021 Brian Frutiger’s edgy tenor perfectly suits the querulous Dr. Caius. Dallas News, 2 Aug. 2022 Against a long and attenuated trill of the viola, Mehretu’s backgrounds become a lurid green or mysterious blue and the black lines of the paintings start to look more querulous. Jason Farago, New York Times, 28 Sep. 2022

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'querulous.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English querelose, from Latin querulus, from queri to complain

First Known Use

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Time Traveler
The first known use of querulous was in the 15th century

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Dictionary Entries Near querulous

Cite this Entry

“Querulous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/querulous. Accessed 30 May. 2024.

Kids Definition

querulous

adjective
quer·​u·​lous ˈkwer-(y)ə-ləs How to pronounce querulous (audio)
1
: always eager to complain
2
: showing a complaining attitude
a querulous voice
querulously adverb
querulousness noun

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