fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈsti-dē-əs How to pronounce fastidious (audio) , 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

Other Words from fastidious

fastidiously adverb
fastidiousness noun

Fastidious Has a Disgusting Past

Fastidious comes from Latin fastidium, meaning "aversion" or "disgust." Fastidium is believed to be a combination of fastus, meaning "arrogance," and taedium, "irksomeness" or "disgust." (Taedium is also the source of tedium and tedious.) In keeping with its Latin roots, fastidious once meant "haughty," "disgusting," and "disagreeable," but the word is now most often applied to people who are very meticulous or overly difficult to please, or 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.
Recent Examples on the Web Leaders are fastidious about following traffic laws, and riders respect every stoplight. San Diego Union-Tribune, 9 May 2022 Millions were tuning in to works that could be as contemplative as a Sofia Coppola movie or as fastidious as a John McPhee book. Spencer Kornhaber, The Atlantic, 14 Apr. 2022 My mom is the kind of environmentally fastidious gal who washes out plastic baggies, composts like a champ, and saves leftover salmon skin for our omega-3-loving doggos. Bon Appétit, 22 Apr. 2022 Amleth inhabits a world whose operating principle is cruelty, and Eggers’s accomplishment lies in his fastidious, fanatical rendering of that world, down to its bed linens and cooking utensils. New York Times, 21 Apr. 2022 In a remote and hidden valley with a babbling brook in the southern Japanese Alps region, Aoki Ren used to proudly show his cattle farm’s serene surroundings to fastidious buyers of quality wagyu beef. Takehiko Kambayashi, The Christian Science Monitor, 15 Apr. 2022 The fastidious bachelor who lives above the Hamiltons is regarded with open disgust. Washington Post, 5 Apr. 2022 But make no mistake: What excites notoriously fastidious whiskey purists is always the juice itself. Nicolas Stecher, Robb Report, 13 Mar. 2022 Richard Branson’s Virgin Atlantic, however, is taking plane weight loss to a whole new, minutely fastidious level: The airline recently piloted a redesign of its meal trays. Hannah Weinberger, Outside Online, 26 June 2014 See More

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.

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

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Last Updated

20 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Fastidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 24 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for fastidious


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈsti-dē-əs How to pronounce fastidious (audio) \

Kids Definition of fastidious

: hard to please : very particular a fastidious dresser


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈstid-ē-əs, fə- How to pronounce fastidious (audio) \

Medical Definition of fastidious

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

More from Merriam-Webster on fastidious

Nglish: Translation of fastidious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fastidious for Arabic Speakers


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