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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘She certainly had no scruples about serving married men, but she had many about marrying herself.’
    • ‘Tilly was a good friend, but had no scruples about stealing your man, if she felt so inclined.’
    • ‘Success and social ascendancy favoured those lacking any scruples.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘In any case, it's already too late for Howard to start having doubts or scruples.’
    • ‘Speaking to a broad and unsophisticated audience, he did not satisfy the scruples of some academicians, who found that he oversimplified complex problems.’
    • ‘Everywhere in the world they start the same way: young men with more ambition than opportunities, more greed than scruples, join the underworld.’
    • ‘Sandy worried sometimes that she had after all let her desires override her scruples, but Nika's own determination bolstered her.’
    • ‘Neither change has yet been enacted because political scruples intervened at some stage in the march of cynicism.’
    • ‘They had no scruples about the impurity of certain foods and some were non-vegetarian.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Their medical misgivings were reinforced by religious scruples, best expressed by the minister who thought chloroform ‘a decoy of Satan’.’
    • ‘The person once closest to Ryan had no scruples about using Ryan's weaknesses against him.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘His scruples are never in doubt; he's as clear a bad guy as you could fathom while maintaining a semblance of authenticity.’
    • ‘Or is it liberation from scruples that we desire?’
    • ‘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 pores were more magnified than their qualms; their scruples were invisible.’
    • ‘The social and ethical scruples thrown up by the science of new genetics are by now familiar.’
    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’
      • ‘A scruple of conscience; uneasiness of conscience.’
      • ‘Well, of course it's a joke, but it contains a scruple of truth.’
      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’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘By one of those generous turns that make Davie unpredictable he nevertheless acknowledges what Thomas finally achieved, not scrupling to call it great poetry.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Capitalists have never scrupled about redundant production’
    • ‘They have not scrupled to damage the shrine in the past, when they put down the 1991 uprising.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’’
    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’.