fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \fa-ˈsti-dē-əs, fə-\

Definition of fastidious 

1a : showing or demanding excessive delicacy or care fastidious attention to detail— Robert Evett

b : reflecting a meticulous, sensitive, or demanding attitude fastidious workmanship

c : having high and often capricious standards : difficult to please critics … so fastidious that they can talk only to a small circle of initiates— Granville Hicks

2 : having complex nutritional requirements fastidious microorganisms

3 archaic : scornful

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Other Words from fastidious

fastidiously adverb
fastidiousness noun

Fastidious Has a Disgusting Past

There's nothing offensive about fastidious workmanship, and yet the word fastidious traces to the Latin noun fastidium, meaning "aversion" or "disgust." "Fastidium" itself is probably a combination of the Latin words fastus, meaning "arrogance," and taedium, meaning "irksomeness" or "disgust."("Taedium" also gave us our "tedium.") In keeping with its Latin roots, fastidious once meant "haughty," "disgusting," and "disgusted," although those uses are now archaic or obsolete. The word came to be applied to someone who is squeamish or overly difficult to please, and later, to work which reflects a demanding or precise attitude.

Examples of fastidious in a Sentence

My mother had always been the most fastidious and organized of people—a wet ring left on her coffee table by a glass could drive her to distraction. — John B. Judis, New Republic, 14 Oct. 1996 "I'll stop off and get us a sandwich," said Matthew.  … Tony, a fastidious eater, sighed. — Penelope Lively, City of the Mind, 1991 Though he prides himself on being hip, he is too fastidious to do anything dangerous or dirty. — Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, 1984 He is fastidious about keeping the house clean. She was too fastidious to do anything that might get her dirty.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Harvard was led by John Yovicsin, frosty, formal and fastidious, a worshiper in Congregationial churches and a reliable sideline figure in a fedora on fall Saturdays. David M. Shribman, WSJ, "‘The Game’ Review: A Clash Upon a Darkling Plain," 27 Sep. 2018 Other spirits, whether gin, vodka or rum, were mostly imported—an unlikely scenario in a country so fastidious about the provenance and quality of its food and drink. Mark Ellwood, Condé Nast Traveler, "Come to Kyoto for the Sake, Stay for the Gin," 17 Aug. 2018 Choices here may reflect his gallery’s aesthetic: cogent, skewed, color-charged, fastidious, and sometimes darkly wacky., "The week ahead: music, theater, art, and more," 13 July 2018 His colleagues are annoying misfits, described by their quirks, like the fastidious Fredrik Melander, who has a photographic memory, passionately loves his ugly wife, and spends too much time on the toilet. Alice Bolin, Longreads, "The Daughter as Detective," 26 June 2018 Further, few religions are as centralized or as fastidious about record keeping as the Catholic Church. Peter Smith,, "Victims' advocates: Abuse not just a 'Catholic problem'," 25 June 2018 By the late 1940s, dozens of medical journal articles described people with colitis as immature, fastidious, mother-clinging obsessives. Jim Carrier, STAT, "Lobotomies were once used to treat this gut disease, part of a shameful medical history," 12 June 2018 Within its six sprawling exhibition levels, flooded with streaming natural light, Torre will be a feast even for the most demanding and fastidious art connaisseur. Tiziana Cardini, Vogue, "Touring Torre, the Impressive New Addition at Milan’s Fondazione Prada," 19 Apr. 2018 Off the shelf, any good kitchen knife will be sharp, but the fastidious construction process and attention to detail is what (supposedly) makes Mizuno’s superior. Aaron Gulley, Outside Online, "Shimano Unveils New XTR 9100 Components," 29 May 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'fastidious.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of fastidious

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for fastidious

Middle English, from Latin fastidiosus, from fastidium disgust, probably from fastus arrogance (probably akin to Latin fastigium top) + taedium irksomeness — more at tedium

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2018

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The first known use of fastidious was in the 15th century

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More Definitions for fastidious



English Language Learners Definition of fastidious

: very careful about how you do something

: liking few things : hard to please

: wanting to always be clean, neat, etc.


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \fa-ˈsti-dē-əs \

Kids Definition of fastidious

: hard to please : very particular a fastidious dresser


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \fa-ˈstid-ē-əs, fə- \

Medical Definition of fastidious 

: having complex nutritional requirements fastidious microorganisms used of bacteria that grow only in specially fortified artificial culture media

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to move with a clumsy heavy tread

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