Printable Version
Pronunciation: kwer-yê-lês. Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Whiny, grumbling, continually complaining about everything.

Notes: This good adjective supports an adverb, querulously, and a noun, querulousness. Other forms of the noun, such as querulation, querulity, and querulosity have come and gone over the past 300 years and today are considered vagrant oddities. This word looks so much like quarrel, it is difficult not to confuse it with quarrelsome. But please don't; they are as semantically distinct as they are phonetically.

In Play: First of all, you can never be too polite: "Please don't think me querulous, but these are my feet you are standing on." For sure, querulousness is generally not involved with politeness: "The querulous ninny criticizes everything his wife does for him when he should thank her for tolerating him." And what could be worse than a querulous quidnunc, who pries into everyone else's business and complains about it?

Word History: This Good (if used properly) Word came to us via Old French from Latin querulus "querulous", an adjective based on queri "to complain". The original Proto-Indo-European root, kwes- "to pant, wheeze", is lurking in both English quarrel and question. The latter came from Latin questio, questionis, a noun based on an old past participle of Latin quaerere "to ask, seek", questus. (Today's Good Word came from a long-time Agora contributor who goes by the pseudonym Ekkis. Why don't you drop by the Alpha Agora today and say, 'Hello'?)

Dr. Goodword,

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