me·​tic·​u·​lous | \ mə-ˈti-kyə-ləs How to pronounce meticulous (audio) \

Definition of meticulous

: marked by extreme or excessive care in the consideration or treatment of details a meticulous researcher

Other Words from meticulous

meticulosity \ mə-​ˌti-​kyə-​ˈlä-​sə-​tē How to pronounce meticulous (audio) \ noun
meticulously \ mə-​ˈti-​kyə-​ləs-​lē How to pronounce meticulous (audio) \ adverb
meticulousness \ mə-​ˈti-​kyə-​ləs-​nəs How to pronounce meticulous (audio) \ noun

Synonyms & Antonyms for meticulous



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Choose the Right Synonym for meticulous

careful, meticulous, scrupulous, punctilious mean showing close attention to detail. careful implies attentiveness and cautiousness in avoiding mistakes. a careful worker meticulous may imply either commendable extreme carefulness or a hampering finicky caution over small points. meticulous scholarship scrupulous applies to what is proper or fitting or ethical. scrupulous honesty punctilious implies minute, even excessive attention to fine points. punctilious observance of ritual

Meticulous Has Fearful Roots

It may surprise you to learn that meticulous is derived from the Latin word for "fearful"—meticulosus—and ultimately comes from the Latin noun metus, meaning "fear." Although meticulous currently has no "fearful" meanings, it was originally used as a synonym of "frightened" and "timid." This sense had fallen into disuse by 1700, and in the 19th century meticulous acquired a new sense of "overly and timidly careful" (probably influenced by the French word méticuleux). This in turn led to the current meaning of "painstakingly careful," with no connotations of fear at all. The newest use was controversial among some usage commentators at first, but it has since become by far the most common meaning and is no longer considered an error.

Examples of meticulous in a Sentence

Always meticulous about his appearance in the past, he had become dirty and unkempt, with straggly hair, stained clothes, and patches of silver stubble on his chin. — Minette Walters, Fox Evil, 2002 She was very much the craftswoman, all her work meticulous, slow, perfect. — Simon Winchester, The Professor and the Madman, 1998 In dense, meticulous arguments … Brooten mounts an assault on that view. — Cullen Murphy, Atlantic, August 1993 He described the scene in meticulous detail. He is meticulous about keeping accurate records.
Recent Examples on the Web Though his book is otherwise meticulous about facts, Mr. Plokhy puts less effort into sifting out credible health research from the less plausible claims made by activists such as Greenpeace or the Union of Concerned Scientists. James B. Meigs, WSJ, 20 May 2022 The show is a meticulous examination of the inner and outer life of a single painting set forth in a remarkably spacious setting where each life gets its own large gallery. New York Times, 29 Apr. 2022 The meticulous work was carried out by some of the UK’s best tuners, including 911 Rennsport, Workshop Seventy7, Jaz Porsche, Riviera Autobody and Roger Bray. Rachel Cormack, Robb Report, 21 Apr. 2022 Finding microplastics within the body takes meticulous, careful work. NBC News, 11 Apr. 2022 This is the story of a heist that stunned the world -- and the meticulous police work that led to the capture of six members of the family gang that police say are believed to be responsible for it. Natalie Croker, CNN, 27 Jan. 2022 When reality is described in such meticulous detail, there’s usually nowhere else to go but toward empathy. Will Dukes, Rolling Stone, 22 Dec. 2021 That is not to devalue Mr. Thackston’s translation, which is impressively meticulous. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, 7 Jan. 2022 These same research methods should be applied to real estate investment but should be twice as meticulous. Sarnen Steinbarth, Forbes, 28 Dec. 2021 See More

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

First Known Use of meticulous

1827, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for meticulous

earlier, "fearful," borrowed from Latin metīculōsus, metūculōsus "timid, apprehensive," from metū-, stem of metus "fear, dread" (of uncertain origin) + -culōsus (in perīculōsus "involving danger, perilous")

Note: The senses "overscrupulous," then "careful, scrupulous" may depend on French méticuleux, for which these meanings are attested somewhat earlier than in English.

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Last Updated

23 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Meticulous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for meticulous


me·​tic·​u·​lous | \ mə-ˈtik-yə-ləs How to pronounce meticulous (audio) \

Kids Definition of meticulous

: showing extreme or excessive care in thinking about or dealing with small details a meticulous description

More from Merriam-Webster on meticulous

Nglish: Translation of meticulous for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of meticulous for Arabic Speakers


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