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The Complete Vocabulary Builder Workbook



How to pronounce scruples (audio)

Dictionary definition of scruples

Moral or ethical principles that guide a person's behavior and decision-making.
"His ethical scruples prevented him from engaging in dishonest business practices."

Detailed meaning of scruples

They are the inner voice that tells a person what is right or wrong and helps them to determine what actions to take. Scruples are often related to the concept of conscience, which is an inner sense of what is right and wrong in a particular situation. People with strong scruples are often considered to be highly principled and morally upright, as they have a strict adherence to their code of ethics. Those who lack scruples, on the other hand, may be considered to be unscrupulous or lacking a moral compass. Scruples can also refer to the doubts or qualms one might have about something, for example, "I had scruples about lying to my friend" means you have doubts or reservations about doing so. It can also refer to a state of being scrupulous, which means being very careful and attentive to detail, punctilious.

Example sentences containing scruples

1. She had no scruples about cheating on the exam.
2. Sarah's religious upbringing instilled strong moral scruples in her.
3. Despite his financial troubles, he refused to compromise his scruples.
4. Ethical scruples often guide our decision-making in challenging situations.
5. Her scruples led her to return the wallet she found on the street.
6. Some politicians seem to have no scruples when it comes to making false promises.

History and etymology of scruples

The noun 'scruples' has its etymological origins in Latin. It is derived from the Latin word 'scrupulus,' which referred to a small sharp stone or pebble. In Roman times, when walking, if one were to step on such a small, painful stone, it could give rise to hesitation or doubt. Over time, 'scrupulus' took on a metaphorical sense, signifying a moral or ethical doubt or hesitation that could arise in one's conscience. As the term transitioned into Old French and eventually into English, it retained this sense of moral or ethical hesitation and became 'scruples,' describing the moral or ethical principles that guide a person's behavior and decision-making. The etymology of 'scruples' effectively conveys its historical association with moments of moral doubt and hesitation, emphasizing its role as a noun used to describe one's inner ethical compass and principles that lead to conscientious decision-making.

Quiz: Find the meaning of scruples

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Further usage examples of scruples

1. The company's scruples were called into question when their environmental violations were exposed.
2. His scruples about animal rights led him to become a vegetarian.
3. In literature, characters often grapple with their moral scruples.
4. The journalist's scruples compelled her to report the truth, regardless of the consequences.
5. Many people have personal scruples about using plastic due to its environmental impact.
6. Ethical scruples vary from person to person, depending on their values.
7. She had no scruples about confronting her supervisor when she witnessed unethical behavior.
8. His scruples prevented him from accepting a bribe.
9. Philosophers have debated the nature of human scruples for centuries.
10. Some individuals struggle with inner scruples when faced with difficult choices.
11. Ethical leaders are often praised for their unwavering scruples.
12. She had no scruples about donating her time to charitable causes.
13. The lawyer's scruples guided her in providing honest advice to her clients.
14. Society often rewards individuals with strong scruples who act with integrity.



morals, unscrupulousness, immorality, amorality


Conduct and Character, Certainty and Conviction, Trials and Tribulations, Choices and Decisions, Command and Constraint, Middle School 13, Morality and Influence

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