- calm (dialectal)
Perhaps from Middle English qualm, cwalm (“death, sickness, plague”), from Old English cwealm (West Saxon: "death, disaster, plague"), ūtcualm (Anglian: "utter destruction"), from Proto-Germanic *kwalmaz (“killing, death, destruction”), from Proto-Indo-European *gʷel- (“to stick, pierce; pain, injury, death”), thus related to cwelan (“to die,”) cwellan (“to kill”); although the sense development is possible, this has the problem that there are no attestations in intermediate senses before the appearance of "pang of apprehension, etc." in the 16th century. The alternative etymology is from Dutch kwalm or German Qualm "steam, vapor, mist," earlier "daze, stupefaction", which is from the root of German quellen (“stream, well up”). The sense "feeling of faintness" is from 1530; "uneasiness, doubt" from 1553; "scruple of conscience" from 1649.
qualm (plural qualms)
- (now chiefly Britain dialectal) Mortality; plague; pestilence.
- (now chiefly Britain dialectal) A calamity or disaster.
- A feeling of apprehension, doubt, fear etc. [from 16th c.]
2012 August 25, Andy Pasztor, “Armstrong, First Man on Moon, Dies”, Wall Street Journal, accessed on 2012-08-26:
- Opponents of those privatization plans hoped to use Mr. Armstrong's qualms as ammunition to block the White House initiatives, and they asked for more public statements.
- A sudden sickly feeling; queasiness. [from 16th c.]
- A prick of the conscience; a moral scruple, a pang of guilt. (Now chiefly in negative constructions.) [from 17th c.]
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