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[skroo-puh l] /ˈskru pəl/
a moral or ethical consideration or standard that acts as a restraining force or inhibits certain actions.
a very small portion or amount.
a unit of weight equal to 20 grains (1.295 grams) or 1/3 of a dram, apothecaries' weight.
an ancient Roman unit of weight equivalent to 1/24 of an ounce or 1/288 of an as or pound.
Compare as2 (def 2).
verb (used without object), scrupled, scrupling.
to have scruples.
verb (used with object), scrupled, scrupling.
to have scruples about; hesitate at.
Origin of scruple
1350-1400; (< French scrupule) < Latin scrūpulus unit of weight, worry, precaution equivalent to scrūp(us) rough pebble + -ulus -ule; replacing earlier scriple, Middle English < Latin scrīpulum (variant scriptulum) small weight, pebble, alteration of scrūpulus by association with scrīptum writing (see script; for sense relation cf. gram1)
Related forms
scrupleless, adjective
overscruple, verb, overscrupled, overscrupling.
unscrupled, adjective
1. qualm, compunction, restraint. 6. waver. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for scruple
Historical Examples
  • Dick had no scruple in clasping that extended hand very warmly in his own.

    Within the Law Marvin Dana
  • I should make no scruple of frightening him within an inch of his life, for his good.

  • You need have no scruple to take charge of it; it relates not to myself.

  • As this was an order, the mate did not scruple about obeying it.

    Homeward Bound James Fenimore Cooper
  • "It is a scruple which up till now has been too strong for me," Wrayson remarked quietly.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
  • But it does not scruple to mark its disapproval by passively hindering him at every turn.

    The Snare Rafael Sabatini
  • And were I in your place, Anthony, faith I'd not scruple to do it.

    Mistress Wilding Rafael Sabatini
  • Does it mean that when you are a representative you will not scruple to skewer M. le Marquis?

    Scaramouche Rafael Sabatini
  • He had given her indeed, she made no scruple of showing, plenty to consider.

  • For this reason we have had no scruple in dismissing it with a short sketch.

British Dictionary definitions for scruple


(often pl) a doubt or hesitation as to what is morally right in a certain situation
(archaic) a very small amount
a unit of weight equal to 20 grains (1.296 grams)
an ancient Roman unit of weight equivalent to approximately one twenty-fourth of an ounce
(obsolete when transitive) to have doubts (about), esp for a moral reason
Derived Forms
scrupleless, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Latin scrūpulus a small weight, from scrūpus rough stone
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for scruple

"moral misgiving, pang of conscience," late 14c., from Old French scrupule (14c.), from Latin scrupulus "uneasiness, anxiety, pricking of conscience," literally "small sharp stone," diminutive of scrupus "sharp stone or pebble," used figuratively by Cicero for a cause of uneasiness or anxiety, probably from the notion of having a pebble in one's shoe. The word in the more literal Latin sense of "small unit of weight or measurement" is attested in English from late 14c.


"to have or make scruples," 1620s, from scruple (n.). Related: Scrupled; scrupling.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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scruple in Medicine

scruple scru·ple (skrōō'pəl)

  1. An uneasy feeling arising from conscience or principle that tends to hinder action.

  2. A unit of apothecary weight that is equal to about 1.3 grams, or 20 grains.

  3. A minute part or amount.

The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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