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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 scruple
Historical Examples
  • But the Secretary of State overruled this scruple, and the leave was to be given.

    John Caldigate Anthony Trollope
  • Mr Boyle had no scruple; and I am sure this is a stronger case.

    Deerbrook Harriet Martineau
  • Then dissolve Ambergrise and Musk, of each a scruple, in a few ounces of the water, which filtre and put to the rest.

    The Toilet of Flora Pierre-Joseph Buc'hoz
  • If I can help you in any way, I hope you will not scruple to tell me.

  • She had gone back to Hill then, but made no scruple of leaving him alone often: and Hill, who had had his lesson, put up with it.

    Johnny Ludlow. First Series Mrs. Henry Wood
  • If this should be limited my employers would drop me without a scruple.

  • My principles were true; my motives were pure: why should I scruple to avow my principles and vindicate my actions?

    Arthur Mervyn Charles Brockden Brown
  • A man who could make so vile a pun would not scruple to pick a pocket.

    Familiar Quotations John Bartlett
  • And isn't he just a little supersensitive to raise a scruple of that sort?

    L. P. M. J. Stewart Barney
  • Neither objector seems to see that the one scruple cancels the other.

    The Convert Elizabeth Robins
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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