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

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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 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, "Philip Guston’s Discomfort Zone," 5 Jan. 2021 The two old preachers, whose memories and failing health and touchingly querulous relationship are at the heart of Gilead and Home, have had nothing but trouble, all their lives, from this son of Robert, known to everyone as Jack. Hermione Lee, The New York Review of Books, "Sympathy for the Devil," 6 Oct. 2020 There were long stretches of the debate where the audience of tens of millions surely had no idea what was going on except that these two querulous elderly men did not like each other. David Faris, TheWeek, "Why Trump's alpha debate strategy will backfire," 30 Sep. 2020 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

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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Time Traveler for querulous

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

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Cite this Entry

“Querulous.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/querulous. Accessed 12 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for querulous



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

More from Merriam-Webster on querulous

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for querulous

Nglish: Translation of querulous for Spanish Speakers

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