compunction

EnglishEdit

EtymologyEdit

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).

PronunciationEdit

  • IPA(key): /kəmˈpʌŋk.ʃən/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -ʌŋkʃən

NounEdit

compunction (countable and uncountable, plural compunctions)

  1. A pricking of conscience or a feeling of regret, especially one which is slight or fleeting.
    Synonyms: qualm, regret, remorse; see also Thesaurus:remorse
    • 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.

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