1803, from un- (1) "not" + scrupulous (adj.). Related: Unscrupulously; unscrupulousness.
Entries linking to unscrupulous
prefix of negation, Old English un-, from Proto-Germanic *un- (source also of Old Saxon, Old Frisian, Old High German, German un-, Gothic un-, Dutch on-), from PIE *n- (source of Sanskrit a-, an- "not," Greek a-, an-, Old Irish an-, Latin in-), combining form of PIE root *ne- "not." Often euphemistic (such as untruth for "lie").
The most prolific of English prefixes, freely and widely used in Old English, where it forms more than 1,000 compounds. It underwent a mass extinction in early Middle English, but emerged with renewed vigor 16c. to form compounds with native and imported words. It disputes with Latin-derived cognate in- (1) the right to form the negation of certain words (indigestable/undigestable, etc.), and though both might be deployed in cooperation to indicate shades of meaning (unfamous/infamous), typically they are not.
It also makes words from phrases (such as uncalled-for, c. 1600; undreamed-of, 1630s; uncome-at-able, 1690s; unputdownable, 1947, of a book; un-in-one-breath-utterable, Ben Jonson; etc., but the habit is not restricted to un-; such as put-up-able-with, 1812). As a prefix in telegramese to replace not and save the cost of a word, it is attested by 1936.
mid-15c., "characterized by fine distinctions of doubt," from Anglo-French scrupulus (Old French scrupulos, Modern French scrupuleux) and directly from Latin scrupulosus "careful, exact," from scrupulus (see scruple). By 1540s as "careful to follow the dictates of conscience," hence, in non-moral matters, "exact, precise, rigorous, punctilious" (1630s). Scruplesome "inclined to be scrupulous" is from 1800 (Maria Edgeworth). Related: Scrupulously; scrupulousness; scrupulosity.
updated on February 28, 2014
Dictionary entries near unscrupulous