Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun An uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action.
  • noun A unit of apothecary weight equal to about 1.3 grams, or 20 grains.
  • noun A minute part or amount.
  • intransitive verb To hesitate as a result of conscience or principle.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun Perplexity, trouble, or uneasiness of conscience; hesitation or reluctance in acting, arising from inability to satisfy conscience, or from the difficulty of determining what is right or expedient; doubt; backwardness in deciding or acting.
  • To have scruples; be reluctant as regards action or decision; hesitate about doing a thing; doubt; especially, to have conscientious doubts.
  • Synonyms Scruple, Hesitate, Waver. We waver through irresolution, and hesitate through fear, if only the fear of making a mistake. Scruple has tended more and more to limitation to a reluctance produced by doubt as to the right or the propriety of the thing proposed.
  • To have scruples about; doubt; hesitate with regard to; question; especially, to have conscientious doubts concerning: chiefly with an infinitive as object (now the only common use).
  • noun A unit of weight, the third part of a dram, being ounce in apothecaries' weight, where alone it is now used by English-speaking people: this is 20 grains (= 1.296 grams).
  • noun A small fraction.
  • noun Eighteen seconds of time.
  • noun One twelfth of an inch; a line.
  • noun One tenth of a geometrical inch.
  • noun A digit; the twelfth part of the sun's or moon's diameter.
  • noun Hence, figuratively
  • noun A small part; a little of anything, chiefly in negative phrases: sometimes confused with scruple.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • intransitive verb To be reluctant or to hesitate, as regards an action, on account of considerations of conscience or expedience.
  • noun A weight of twenty grains; the third part of a dram.
  • noun Hence, a very small quantity; a particle.
  • noun Hesitation as to action from the difficulty of determining what is right or expedient; unwillingness, doubt, or hesitation proceeding from motives of conscience.
  • noun to hesitate from conscientious motives; to scruple.
  • transitive verb To regard with suspicion; to hesitate at; to question.
  • transitive verb rare To excite scruples in; to cause to scruple.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun obsolete A weight of twenty grains; the third part of a dram.
  • noun obsolete Hence, a very small quantity; a particle.
  • noun Hesitation as to action from the difficulty of determining what is right or expedient; unwillingness, doubt, or hesitation proceeding from motives of conscience; to consider if something is ethical.
  • noun obsolete A doubt or uncertainty concerning a matter of fact; intellectual perplexity.
  • noun A measurement of time. Hebrew culture broke the hour into 1080 scruples.
  • verb intransitive To be reluctant or to hesitate, as regards an action, on account of considerations of conscience or expedience.
  • verb To regard with suspicion; to hesitate at; to question.
  • verb obsolete To doubt; to question; to hesitate to believe; to question the truth of (a fact, etc.).
  • verb To excite scruples in; to cause to scruple.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • verb hesitate on moral grounds
  • noun a unit of apothecary weight equal to 20 grains
  • noun an ethical or moral principle that inhibits action
  • verb raise scruples
  • verb have doubts about
  • noun uneasiness about the fitness of an action

Etymologies

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English scrupul, from Old French scrupule, from Latin scrūpulus, small unit of measurement, scruple, diminutive of scrūpus, rough stone, scruple.]

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

From Latin scrūpulus ("uneasiness of mind, trouble, anxiety, doubt, scruple, literally a small sharp or pointed stone, the twenty-fourth part of an ounce"), diminutive of scrūpus ("a rough or sharp stone, anxiety, uneasiness"); perhaps akin to Ancient Greek σκύρος (skuros, "the chippings of stone"), ξυρόν (ksuron, "a razor"), Sanskrit क्षुर (kṣurá, "a razor"): compare French scrupule.

Examples

Comments

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  • Something that is small--a small irritant that causes anxiety and restrains behavior, or a small unit of measure; original literal meaning was "a small stone"

    July 17, 2007

  • Reminds me of an old joke: A guy is chatting up a girl in a bar, and after a while he invites her back to his apartment. "Oh, no," the girl says. "I have scruples". "That's okay," the guy says. "I've had my shots."

    April 30, 2008