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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
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • But now when too late, when he heard the sound of his letter falling into the box, a thousand scruples filled his mind.

    File No. 113 Emile Gaboriau
  • I'm afraid my scruples vanished when I got him before my easel.

    The Greater Inclination Edith Wharton
  • "A sudden development of scruples, under the circumstances," he sneered.

    A Dash .. .. .. For a Throne Arthur W. Marchmont
  • Is it for him to talk of scruples when upon this subject I have none?

  • I had no scruples about reading the epistle—not the slightest.

    The Guerilla Chief Mayne Reid
  • Violence I will not employ, so let your scruples be at rest.

    Gomez Arias Joaqun Telesforo de Trueba y Coso
  • He began, with coy hesitancy, to beat his scruples around the bush, which was not a bad lead.

    The Missourian Eugene P. (Eugene Percy) Lyle
  • I don't know what your scruples are—I shall never ask you again.

    The Avenger E. Phillips Oppenheim
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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