Definition of scruple in English:



  • 1usually scruplesA feeling of doubt or hesitation with regard to the morality or propriety of a course of action.

    ‘I had no scruples about eavesdropping’
    mass noun ‘without scruple, politicians use fear as a persuasion weapon’
    • ‘Stalin was of course a secular utopian and materialist, and Applebaum seems to have found no evidence that he ever had any moral scruples or hesitations about the Gulag.’
    • ‘Speaking to a broad and unsophisticated audience, he did not satisfy the scruples of some academicians, who found that he oversimplified complex problems.’
    • ‘Success and social ascendancy favoured those lacking any scruples.’
    • ‘Tilly was a good friend, but had no scruples about stealing your man, if she felt so inclined.’
    • ‘He recognized the claims both of social convention and of personal inclination, and no man better evoked the power of passion to overwhelm the scruples of even the most highly principled person.’
    • ‘Neither change has yet been enacted because political scruples intervened at some stage in the march of cynicism.’
    • ‘Sandy worried sometimes that she had after all let her desires override her scruples, but Nika's own determination bolstered her.’
    • ‘His scruples are never in doubt; he's as clear a bad guy as you could fathom while maintaining a semblance of authenticity.’
    • ‘The social and ethical scruples thrown up by the science of new genetics are by now familiar.’
    • ‘They had no scruples about the impurity of certain foods and some were non-vegetarian.’
    • ‘Their pores were more magnified than their qualms; their scruples were invisible.’
    • ‘Conan Doyle had no scruples about bringing him back from the dead after he drowned with Moriarty in the Reichenbach Falls at the end of The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes.’
    • ‘The person once closest to Ryan had no scruples about using Ryan's weaknesses against him.’
    • ‘She certainly had no scruples about serving married men, but she had many about marrying herself.’
    • ‘He asserted that the government had no scruples about divesting a majority of its shares in the telecoms companies, as long as it would increase their benefit to the country.’
    • ‘Their medical misgivings were reinforced by religious scruples, best expressed by the minister who thought chloroform ‘a decoy of Satan’.’
    • ‘The movie takes us back to sci-fi of fantastic beasts, megalomaniac scientists and of course the eternal debate of science without scruples turning into a runaway train.’
    • ‘In any case, it's already too late for Howard to start having doubts or scruples.’
    • ‘Or is it liberation from scruples that we desire?’
    • ‘Everywhere in the world they start the same way: young men with more ambition than opportunities, more greed than scruples, join the underworld.’
    qualms, twinge of conscience, compunction, hesitation, reservations, second thoughts, doubt, doubts, misgivings, pangs of conscience, uneasiness, reluctance
    principles, standards, values, morals, morality, moral concern, ethics, conscience, creed, beliefs
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  • 2historical A unit of weight equal to 20 grains, used by apothecaries.

    ‘give, daily, one scruple of sulphate of quinine’
    • ‘Oil of the seed, given from half a scruple to half a dram, in some liquor, or a spoonful of juice in some wine, taken before the fit comes on, and the person is put to bed, cures quotidians and quartans.’
    1. 2.1archaic A very small amount of something, especially a quality.
      ‘in the choice of a second wife, one scruple of prudence is worth a pound of passion’
      • ‘Well, of course it's a joke, but it contains a scruple of truth.’
      • ‘A scruple of conscience; uneasiness of conscience.’
      little bit, small amount, particle, degree, speck, fragment, scrap, crumb, grain, morsel, taste, soupçon, shred, mite, dash, drop, pinch, ounce, touch, tinge, dab, jot, iota, whit, tittle, jot or tittle, atom, inch, snippet, sliver, smattering, scintilla, hint, suggestion, whisper, trifle
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  • no object, with infinitive and usually with negative Hesitate or be reluctant to do something that one thinks may be wrong.

    ‘she doesn't scruple to ask her parents for money’
    • ‘Capitalists have never scrupled about redundant production’
    • ‘At least, you may safely infer, said Philo, that the foregoing hypothesis is so far incomplete and imperfect; which I shall not scruple to allow.’
    • ‘He scrupled to do evil that good might come of it, and in consequence refused to crush his adversaries because he recognized that he would need to seize illegal powers in order to do it.’
    • ‘In Central America, I witnessed civil war fought between guerrilla groups intent on imposing totalitarian tyranny on their societies, opposed by armies that didn't scruple to resort to massacre.’
    • ‘One very black mark he had to his name; but the matter was hushed up at the time, and so defaced by legends before I came into those parts that I scruple to set it down.’
    • ‘They have not scrupled to damage the shrine in the past, when they put down the 1991 uprising.’
    • ‘Northern newspapers claimed, ‘Shannon has not scrupled to take such steps as have given these pro-slavery fighting rowdies and Missourians possession of public arm belonging to Kansas.’’
    • ‘By one of those generous turns that make Davie unpredictable he nevertheless acknowledges what Thomas finally achieved, not scrupling to call it great poetry.’
    hesitate, be reluctant, be loath, have qualms about, have scruples about, have misgivings about, have reservations about, stick at, think twice about, baulk at, demur about, demur from, mind doing something
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Late Middle English: from French scrupule or Latin scrupulus, from scrupus, literally ‘rough pebble’, (figuratively) ‘anxiety’.