quer·​u·​lous | \ˈkwer-yə-ləs, -ə-ləs also ˈkwir-\

Definition of querulous 

1 : habitually complaining

2 : fretful, whining a querulous voice

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Other Words from querulous

querulously adverb
querulousness noun

Did You Know?

English speakers have tagged fearful 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

There’s a boisterous, querulous argument in the back room of a bar between characters played by Mr. Reed and Kip Hanrahan, the recording artist and musical impresario; Mr. Hanrahan’s white radical posture generates no small amusement. Glenn Kenny, New York Times, "Review: ‘Personal Problems,’ a Look at African-American Life in 1980 New York," 29 Mar. 2018 From the outset, there is a querulous note to this Brutus. John Timpane, Philly.com, "'Julius Caesar' at Quintessence: Tense, tart, appalling, engrossing," 25 Mar. 2018 Kate Kearney-Patch's Marína, the old nurse who knows how to soothe the querulous personalities around, doesn't want the spotlight, but her presence deserves to be felt more strongly. Charles Mcnulty, latimes.com, "A spectacular new 'Uncle Vanya' at San Diego's Old Globe," 21 Feb. 2018 Even allowing for the querulous spirit that opinion polls often seem to inspire, this is an astonishing thing for the majority of the population to agree to in a country as stable, peaceful, rich, and successful as today’s Britain. David Goodhart, National Review, "On the Road to Somewhere, the Divide between Elites and Populists," 21 Aug. 2017 In one drawing, a pair of women and a pair of men sit kibbitzing on benches in Union Square; Katz captures all four physiognomies and expressions—from a querulous, sharp-nosed woman to a sympathetic, shovel-chinned man—with vigilant specificity. The New Yorker, "Alex Katz," 22 May 2017 Raisman, who is seventy-six, is querulous by nature, a determined outsider. D. T. Max, The New Yorker, "One Small Step," 25 Jan. 2016

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'querulous.' 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 querulous

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for querulous

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

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

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English Language Learners Definition of querulous

: complaining in an annoyed way


quer·​u·​lous | \ˈkwer-yə-ləs, -ə-ləs\

Kids Definition of querulous

: having or showing a complaining attitude a querulous voice

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Comments on querulous

What made you want to look up querulous? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


playful or foolish behavior

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