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 the Appendix of Indo-European roots.]
com·punctious (-shəs) adj.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2018 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.