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”).
- A pricking of conscience or a feeling of regret, especially one which is slight or fleeting.
- 1855 December – 1857 June, Charles Dickens, “Something Right Somewhere”, in Little Dorrit, London: Bradbury and Evans, […], published 1857, OCLC 83401042, 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 688657546, 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 2883166, 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," Time:
- As for average U.S. consumers, they've shown little compunction about buying diamonds that fund bloody militias in Africa.
pricking of conscience