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mid-14c., from Old French compunction (12c., Modern French componction), from Late Latin compunctionem (nominative compunctio) "remorse; a pricking" (of conscience), noun of action from past participle stem of Latin compungere "to severely prick, sting," from com-, intensive prefix (see com-), + pungere "to prick" (see pungent). Used in figurative sense by early Church writers. Originally a much more intense feeling, similar to "remorse," or "contrition."