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

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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 My grandpa, who kept checkbooks balanced and the garden fertilized, was less fastidious about his health. Shanika Hillocks, Bon Appétit, "I Run For My Health. Do I Have to Fear For My Life?," 12 May 2020 Ivan Vasquez is similarly fastidious about the quality and provenance of the Oaxacan ingredients used in his restaurants. Los Angeles Times, "Is L.A. becoming a tlayuda desert? How COVID-19 is causing a shortage of Oaxacan ingredients," 1 May 2020 In contrast, the French kitchen is an anally fastidious place, full of rules and regulations. Ryu Spaeth, The New Republic, "Cooking While the World Falls Apart," 30 Apr. 2020 Not as elegant and magnificent as Central Park Gotham, but sufficiently so to suit the not over-fastidious tastes of San Franciscans. Bill Van Niekerken,, "Golden Gate Park at 150: Archive photos of San Francisco at rest and play in the park throughout decades," 8 Apr. 2020 Saul’s effrontery has long driven fastidious souls from galleries, including me years ago. Peter Schjeldahl, The New Yorker, "The In-Your-Face Paintings of Peter Saul," 10 Feb. 2020 But if its weight starts to drop, its brain signals to release stress hormones that incite the fastidious hiding of seeds all over the cage. Stephanie Preston, The Conversation, "Your brain evolved to hoard supplies and shame others for doing the same," 27 Mar. 2020 The Marquez of today, Bexar County’s executive director of economic and community development, is soft-spoken, thoughtful and a fastidious dresser. Greg Jefferson,, "Jefferson: Manufacturing is having its day in S.A.," 14 Feb. 2020 Having grown up in a disordered household, Jayne ran hers with a fastidious rigor. Hamish Bowles, Vogue, "Hamish Bowles Remembers Jayne Wrightsman, Esteemed Arts Connoisseur and Legendary Hostess," 24 Apr. 2019

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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Time Traveler for fastidious

Time Traveler

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

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Last Updated

23 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Fastidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 25 May. 2020.

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More Definitions for fastidious


How to pronounce fastidious (audio)

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 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

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