SKIP TO CONTENT

qualm

A qualm is a feeling of uneasiness, or a sense that something you're doing is wrong, and it sounds almost like how it makes your stomach feel. If you had qualms about taking candy from the bulk bins at the store, your conscience probably told you to go back to the cashier and pay.

Qualm entered English in the 16th century, with meanings like "doubt" and "uneasiness." Usually a qualm comes from doubt about an action and a feeling that you are doing, or are about to do, something wrong. It isn’t a bad feeling about another person's behavior but about your own. If you have qualms about lying to get into the over-18 dance club, you might decide to follow your gut-check and meet your friends for coffee instead.

Definitions of qualm
  1. noun
    uneasiness about the fitness of an action
    synonyms: misgiving, scruple
    see moresee less
    type of:
    anxiety
    a vague unpleasant emotion that is experienced in anticipation of some (usually ill-defined) misfortune
  2. noun
    a mild state of nausea
    synonyms: queasiness, squeamishness
    see moresee less
    type of:
    nausea, sickness
    the state that precedes vomiting
Word Family
EDITOR’S CHOICE

Test prep from the experts

Boost your test score with programs developed by Vocabulary.com’s experts.

  • Proven methods: Learn faster, remember longer with our scientific approach.
  • Personalized plan: We customize your experience to maximize your learning.
  • Strategic studying: Focus on the words that are most crucial for success.

SAT/PSAT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 8 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

TOEFL

$29.95
  • Number of words: 500+
  • Duration: 10 weeks or less
  • Time: 1 hour / week

ACT

$29.95
  • Number of words: 700+
  • Duration: 10 weeks
  • Time: 1 hour / week