Definition from Wiktionary, the free dictionary
Jump to navigation Jump to search



From Middle English compunccion, borrowed from Old French compunction, from Late Latin compunctionem (a pricking), from Latin compunctus, the past participle of compungere (to severely prick), from com- + pungere (to prick).


  • IPA(key): /kəmˈpʌŋk.ʃən/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌŋkʃən


compunction (countable and uncountable, plural compunctions)

  1. A pricking of conscience or a feeling of regret, especially one which is slight or fleeting.
    Synonyms: qualm, regret, remorse; see also Thesaurus:remorse
    • 1834, L[etitia] E[lizabeth] L[andon], chapter XXVII, in Francesca Carrara. [], volume I, London: Richard Bentley, [], (successor to Henry Colburn), →OCLC, page 320:
      Besides, to do De Joinville justice, he felt, too, a degree of kindly compunction for the former harsh judgment entertained of one who so little deserved it; and—for there is no such thing in the human mind as an unmixed sensation—he was struck both with the spirit with which she resented, and the proud humility with which she forgave the affront.
    • 1848 November – 1850 December, William Makepeace Thackeray, chapter 70, in The History of Pendennis. [], volume (please specify |volume=I or II), London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1849–1850, →OCLC:
      His age—his kindness, disarmed Pen’s anger somewhat, and made Arthur feel no little compunction for the deed which he was about to do.
    • 1855 December – 1857 June, Charles Dickens, “Something Right Somewhere”, in Little Dorrit, London: Bradbury and Evans, [], published 1857, →OCLC, book the second (Riches), page 366:
      [H]e would have had no compunction whatever in flinging him out of the highest window in Venice into the deepest water of the city.
    • 1897, Bram Stoker, “Jonathan Harker’s Journal—Continued”, in Dracula, New York, N.Y.: Modern Library, →OCLC, page 36:
      [T]he instant the door had closed behind him, I leaned over and looked at the letters, which were face down on the table. I felt no compunction in doing so, for under the circumstances I felt that I should protect myself in every way I could.
    • 1920 November 9, D[avid] H[erbert] Lawrence, chapter VIII, in Women in Love, New York, N.Y.: Privately printed [by Thomas Seltzer] for subscribers only, →OCLC, page 112:
      But he felt, later, a little compunction. He had been violent, cruel with poor Hermione. He wanted to recompense her, to make it up.
    • 2003 February 16, Blaine Greteman, “No Peace Dividend”, in Time:
      As for average U.S. consumers, they've shown little compunction about buying diamonds that fund bloody militias in Africa.


See also[edit]