- an uneasy feeling or pang of conscience as to conduct; compunction: He has no qualms about lying.
- a sudden feeling of apprehensive uneasiness; misgiving: a sudden qualm about the success of the venture.
- a sudden sensation or onset of faintness or illness, especially of nausea.
Origin of qualm
Examples from the Web for qualm
Loewen proved to have one qualm that showed he was not a total monster.Terry Lee Loewen, the Mellow Kansas Man Who Dreamed of Jihad
December 16, 2013
Yet I admit to feeling a qualm when I hear this phrase, "moral defense."A Desperate Defense of Capitalism
May 2, 2012
He had put her aside without a qualm; and now he met her announcement with approval.K
Mary Roberts Rinehart
I feel no qualm in saying that his exit was more hasty than his approach.Adventures and Recollections
Bill o'th' Hoylus End
Yet I had no qualm of fear, no doubt, even, touching the issue.Bardelys the Magnificent
Then I shall be able, without a qualm, to send Godfrey to the workhouse.The Red Hand of Ulster
George A. Birmingham
Ma Tamby did not know what it is to have a qualm—which she could not have spelled if she had known.The Paliser case
- a sudden feeling of sickness or nausea
- a pang or sudden feeling of doubt, esp concerning moral conduct; scruple
- a sudden sensation of misgiving or unease
Word Origin and History for qualm
Old English cwealm (West Saxon) "death, murder, slaughter; disaster; plague; torment," utcualm (Anglian) "utter destruction," probably related to cwellan "to kill, murder, execute," cwelan "to die" (see quell). Sense softened to "feeling of faintness" 1520s; figurative meaning "uneasiness, doubt" is from 1550s; that of "scruple of conscience" is 1640s.
Evidence of a direct path from the Old English to the modern senses is wanting, but it is plausible, via the notion of "fit of sickness." The other suggested etymology, less satisfying, is to take the "fit of uneasiness" sense from Dutch kwalm "steam, vapor, mist" (cognate with German Qualm "smoke, vapor, stupor"), which also might be ultimately from the same Germanic root as quell.