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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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for scruples
  • He had little patience with finely drawn distinctions or scruples of method.
  • He had absolutely no scruples about selling anything to anybody as long as he could skim a percentage of the sale.
  • It was not meant to exempt from military service those who objected to going to war but had no scruples about personal gunfights.
  • Yet such scruples seem to go out of the window when it comes to globe-warming oil and gas.
  • The revolutionary spirit is mighty convenient in this, that it frees one from all scruples as regards ideas.
  • But they have no scruples about helping those who are, for the right price.
  • His moral scruples about earning wages forced them to beg friends and relatives for money on which to live.
  • He didn't have any scruples against swearing an oath.
  • For any individual having conscientious scruples against taking an oath, an affirmation may be taken in place of an oath.
  • The client has definite religious scruples which do not, in his judgment, permit him to undergo the recommended treatment.
British Dictionary definitions for scruples


(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 scruples



"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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scruples 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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