Definition of scruple in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈskruːp(ə)l/


1 (usually scruples) A 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Tilly was a good friend, but had no scruples about stealing your man, if she felt so inclined.
qualms, twinge of conscience, compunction, hesitation, reservations, second thoughts, doubt(s), misgivings, pangs of conscience, uneasiness, reluctance
principles, standards, values, morals, morality, moral concern, ethics, conscience, creed, beliefs
2 historical A unit of weight equal to 20 grains, used by apothecaries: give, daily, one scruple of sulphate of quinine
More example sentences
  • 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.
2.1 archaic 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
More example sentences
  • A scruple of conscience; uneasiness of conscience.
  • Well, of course it's a joke, but it contains a scruple of truth.


[no object, with infinitive, 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
More example sentences
  • 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.
  • 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/from, mind doing something;
recoil from, shrink from, hang back from, shy away from, flinch from, drag one's feet/heels over, waver about, vacillate about
informal boggle at
archaic disrelish something


Late Middle English: from French scrupule or Latin scrupulus, from scrupus, literally 'rough pebble', (figuratively) 'anxiety'.

Words that rhyme with scruple

duple, pupal, pupil

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: scru¦ple

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