anal-re·​ten·​tive | \ ˈā-nᵊl-ri-ˈten-tiv How to pronounce anal-retentive (audio) \
variants: or anal retentive

Definition of anal-retentive

psychoanalytic theory
: exhibiting or typifying personality traits (such as frugality and obstinacy) held to be psychological consequences of toilet training Overextending psychic energy during the process of toilet training by holding back can result in fixating at the anal stage, creating an anal retentive personality as an adult. The anal retentive personality is characterized by the tendency to cope with conflicts later in life by demonstrating an extreme sense of cleanliness and orderliness, such as dusting furniture or waxing the car when troubled.— Bernardo J. Carducci often used in nontechnical contexts to describe someone as extremely or excessively neat, careful, or precise … is his father's clone—intense, focused, fuddy-duddy, severely anal-retentive, or as Archie puts it, "a neat freak."— Curry Kirkpatrick

Other Words from anal-retentive

anal retentive or anal-retentive noun, plural anal retentives or anal-retentives
Anal-retentives hoping to use PCs to organize their lives … The Washington Post
anal retentiveness or anal-retentiveness noun
… maybe it's my anal retentiveness, my futile attempts to bring order to a chaotic world. Who knows? All I know is there's no more beautiful sight than firewood stacked in long, perfect rows. — Craig Wilson

First Known Use of anal-retentive

1936, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for anal-retentive

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The first known use of anal-retentive was in 1936

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Dictionary Entries Near anal-retentive

anal proleg



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Last Updated

23 Aug 2022

Cite this Entry

“Anal-retentive.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for anal-retentive


variants: or anal retentive \ ˈān-​ᵊl-​ri-​ˈten-​tiv How to pronounce anal-retentive (audio) \

Medical Definition of anal-retentive

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: characterized by personality traits (as frugality and obstinacy) held to be psychological sequelae of toilet training : anal sense 2b

Other Words from anal-retentive

anal retentiveness or anal-retentiveness noun

anal retentive

variants: or anal-retentive

Medical Definition of anal retentive (Entry 2 of 2)

: an anal-retentive individual

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