quer·​u·​lous | \ ˈkwer-yə-ləs How to pronounce querulous (audio) , -ə-ləs also ˈkwir- \

Definition of querulous

1 : habitually complaining
2 : fretful, whining a querulous voice

Keep scrolling for more

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 As the self-doubting Miles, a man for whom every night is the dark night of the soul, Giamatti makes the best use of his querulous persona, investing an unerring comic touch in a character who is genuinely anguished. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Aged to perfection, Alexander Payne’s ‘Sideways’ is worth more than a glance," 1 Apr. 2020 True change will only come to the Knicks when the querulous and glowering Knicks owner interrogates his two decades of failure and shows himself the door. Michael Powell, New York Times, "The Knicks Fired Their Coach. He Isn’t the Guy Who Needs to Go.," 6 Dec. 2019 Officially retired, the aging sleuth nonetheless accepts an insurance company’s assignment to investigate the death of a debt-ridden and querulous American developer named Donald Zinn, who drowned off the Baja coast. Tom Nolan, WSJ, "Mysteries: Philip Marlowe Returns," 19 July 2018 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

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about querulous

Time Traveler for querulous

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about querulous

Statistics for querulous

Cite this Entry

“Querulous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/querulous. Accessed 11 Aug. 2020.

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for querulous


How to pronounce querulous (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of querulous

formal : complaining in an annoyed way


quer·​u·​lous | \ ˈkwer-yə-ləs How to pronounce querulous (audio) , -ə-ləs \

Kids Definition of querulous

: having or showing a complaining attitude a querulous voice

Keep scrolling for more

More from Merriam-Webster on querulous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for querulous

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with querulous

Spanish Central: Translation of querulous

Nglish: Translation of querulous for Spanish Speakers

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).


Test Your Vocabulary

Original Meanings Quiz

  • rembrandt painting a young scholar and his tutor
  • Which of the following is the earliest known sense of the word awe?
Spell It

Can you spell these 10 commonly misspelled words?

Syn City

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!