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Part or all of this entry has been imported from the 1913 edition of Webster’s Dictionary, which is now free of copyright and hence in the public domain. The imported definitions may be significantly out of date, and any more recent senses may be completely missing.
(See the entry for scruple in
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, G. & C. Merriam, 1913.)


From Old French scrupule, from Latin scrūpulus (uneasiness of mind, trouble, anxiety, doubt, scruple, literally a small sharp or pointed stone, the twenty-fourth part of an ounce), diminutive of scrūpus (a rough or sharp stone, anxiety, uneasiness); perhaps akin to Ancient Greek σκύρος (skúros, the chippings of stone), ξυρόν (xurón, a razor), Sanskrit क्षुर (kṣura, a razor).



scruple (plural scruples)

  1. (obsolete) A weight of twenty grains or one third of a dram, abbreviated with the symbol .
  2. (obsolete) Hence, a very small quantity; a particle.
    • Ca 1601–1608, Shakespeare, As You Like It, Act II Scene 3 221–222
      Paroles: I have not, my lord, deserved it. Lafeu: Yes, good faith, ev'ry dram of it, and I will not bate thee a scruple.
  3. Hesitation as to action from the difficulty of determining what is right or expedient; unwillingness, doubt, or hesitation proceeding from motives of conscience.
    He was made miserable by the conflict between his tastes and his scruples. - Thomas Babington Macaulay.
  4. (obsolete) A doubt or uncertainty concerning a matter of fact; intellectual perplexity.
  5. A Hebrew unit of time, equal to 11080 hour.


Derived terms[edit]



scruple (third-person singular simple present scruples, present participle scrupling, simple past and past participle scrupled)

  1. (intransitive) To be reluctant or to hesitate, as regards an action, on account of considerations of conscience or expedience.
    We are often over-precise, scrupling to say or do those things which lawfully we may. - Thomas Fuller.
    Men scruple at the lawfulness of a set form of divine worship. - Robert South.
  2. To regard with suspicion; to hesitate at; to question.
    Others long before them ... scrupled more the books of hereties than of gentiles. - John Milton.
  3. (obsolete) To doubt; to question; to hesitate to believe; to question the truth of (a fact, etc.).
    I do not scruple to admit that all the Earth seeth but only half of the Moon.
  4. To excite scruples in; to cause to scruple.
    Letters which did still scruple many of them. -E. Symmons.


Further reading[edit]