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 Witch was a slow-burn supernatural horror story that, with its fastidious attention to detail right down to period dialogue, brought audiences to 1630s New England. Borys Kit, The Hollywood Reporter, "Robert Eggers, Alexander Skarsgard Team for Viking Saga 'The Northman'," 16 Oct. 2019 This seminal true crime masterpiece depicts, in fastidious detail, the story of the Manson murders and subsequent trial, penned by the prosecuting attorney himself. Nicole Spector, NBC News, "Hooked on true crime shows like 'Mindhunter' or 'Unbelievable'? Psychologists recommend these books," 29 Sep. 2019 And mold the game plan to the strengths of those playmakers, instead of forcing playmakers to bend their skills to a system, especially one as fastidious and precise as the West Coast offense. Mark Kiszla, The Denver Post, "Kiszla: Here’s how to get clunky Broncos offense moving toward end zone in 3 easy steps," 21 Sep. 2019 However, this isn’t your father’s fastidious tailoring or the corporate uniform or yore. Max Berlinger, Los Angeles Times, "Fall Fashion: For men, looks inspired by ‘The Matrix’ are one of this season’s biggest trends," 7 Sep. 2019 Your mother, who was fastidious about keeping her home clean, now doesn’t notice the clutter. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, "Talking to mom and dad about their money isn’t easy. But don’t wait until it’s too late," 5 July 2019 Gabi: fastidious, attentive, academic, an early-education specialist who used to work at a preschool. Nathan Heller, The New Yorker, "The Perverse Logic of GoFundMe Health Care," 24 June 2019 But there’s only so much a fastidious team of hoteliers and casino designers can control. Joshua Miller,, "Slots. Poker tables. Fine dining. Luxury hotel. Dead fish?," 6 June 2019 Even Thomas Keller, a famously fastidious cook, waxed nostalgic about the white-bean soup that his mother used to make. Junot Díaz, The New Yorker, "The Hunt for Mexico’s Heirloom Beans," 17 Apr. 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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Time Traveler for fastidious

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

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Last Updated

22 Nov 2019

Cite this Entry

“Fastidious.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 5 December 2019.

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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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