- Qualm is defined as a feeling of doubt or sickness.
Feeling nervous about accepting a new job is an example of a qualm.
He seems to have qualms about his job.
- a sudden, brief feeling of sickness, faintness, or nausea
- a sudden feeling of uneasiness or doubt; misgiving
- a twinge of conscience; scruple
Origin of qualmMiddle English qualme ; from Old English cwealm, death, disaster (akin to German qual, pain, Swedish kvalm, nausea) ; from base of cwellan, to kill (see quell): all extant senses show melioration of the origin, originally meaning
- An uneasy feeling about the propriety or rightness of a course of action: “an ignorant ruffianly gaucho, who &ellipsis; would &ellipsis; fight, steal, and do other naughty things without a qualm” (W.H. Hudson).
- A sudden disturbing feeling: “I heard with a qualm of terror the faint, remorseless sound of a telephone ringing somewhere down in the depths of the house” (John Banville).
- A sudden feeling of sickness, faintness, or nausea.
Origin of qualmOrigin unknown.
- (now chiefly UK dialectal) Mortality; plague; pestilence.
- (now chiefly UK dialectal) A calamity or disaster.
- A feeling of apprehension, doubt, fear etc. [from 16th c.]
- 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.]
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”). Related to cwelan (“to die,”) cwellan (“to kill”). The other suggested etymology, less satisfying, is from Dutch kwalm "steam, vapor, mist," which also may be ultimately from the same Germanic root as quell. Sense softened to "feeling of faintness" 1530; meaning "uneasiness, doubt" is from 1553; that of "scruple of conscience" is 1649. An indirect connection between the Old English and modern senses is plausible, via the notion of "fit of sickness."