Also found in: Thesaurus.


1. A strong uneasiness caused by a sense of guilt: stole the money without compunction. See Synonyms at penitence.
2. A sting of conscience or a pang of doubt aroused by wrongdoing or the prospect of wrongdoing: "commercial speculators and hired politicians who had no compunction about pillaging their country for personal gain" (Leo Damrosch).

[Middle English compunccioun, from Old French componction, from Late Latin compūnctiō, compūnctiōn-, puncture, sting of conscience, from Latin compūnctus, past participle of compungere, to sting : com-, intensive pref.; see com- + pungere, to prick; see peuk- in Indo-European roots.]

com·punc′tious (-shəs) adj.
com·punc′tious·ly adv.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.