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

Keep scrolling for more

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.
See More
Recent Examples on the Web Which is why the most fastidious restorers may search for years to find a correct part or go to great lengths to fastidiously replicate a decal or rubber floormat. Robert Ross, Robb Report, "Car of the Week: Why This Unrestored 1955 Ferrari Could Fetch a Bonkers $2.6 Million at Auction," 26 Apr. 2021 Thorpe’s mother’s quilts are fastidious and traditional., "He was an MVP basketball player. Now his star is rising as an art quilter," 15 Apr. 2021 Scott—a fastidious Englishman through and through who wouldn’t have countenanced such an idea—perished along with his men. John Preston, WSJ, "Five Best: Exotic Quests in Fiction," 9 Apr. 2021 That sounds easy enough, but only a great detective, like the fastidious Belgian (or Sherlock Holmes!), can disentangle the essential from the inessential. Washington Post, "Who is the greatest fictional detective? A new book reminds us why it’s Poirot.," 14 Apr. 2021 Rimac suggested how his HQ will be far removed from the suit-and-tie approach taken by McLaren and its sleek glass facility when the famously fastidious Ron Dennis was at the helm. Alistair Charlton, Forbes, "EV Maker Rimac Announces New Croatian Campus, Complete With Meadow And Native Sheep," 12 Apr. 2021 Even before the pandemic, Ms. Tavares was fastidious about hygiene, keeping mounds of wipes and cleaning supplies in the house at all times. New York Times, "How Rhode Island Fell to the Coronavirus," 5 Mar. 2021 My daughters will also agree their mom is more fastidious than most. Washington Post, "Carolyn Hax: The same argument for decades, but on this they agree: No therapy," 7 Feb. 2021 The death shocked friends and families who knew McNulty, 59, as a healthy and robust outdoorsman as well as a fastidious health professional who guided the county through the height of the deadly pandemic. John Tuohy, The Indianapolis Star, "Hamilton County health director led the fight against COVID-19. Then it took his life.," 23 Mar. 2021

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about fastidious

Time Traveler for fastidious

Time Traveler

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

See more words from the same century

Listen to Our Podcast about fastidious

Statistics for fastidious

Last Updated

8 May 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fastidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 15 May. 2021.

Style: MLA
MLACheck Mark Icon ChicagoCheck Mark Icon APACheck Mark Icon Merriam-WebsterCheck Mark Icon

Keep scrolling for more

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 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

Comments on fastidious

What made you want to look up fastidious? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


Test Your Vocabulary

Words Used by Nabokov Quiz

  • image1676440788
  • Choose the best definition or synonym for the word in bold: "There are some eructations that sound like cheers—at least, mine did." Lolita
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Anagram puzzles meet word search.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!