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

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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.
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Recent Examples on the Web Garland is known in legal circles as a meticulous and methodical jurist, who seeks to build consensus among his colleagues and treats litigants with respect. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "The Mystery of Merrick Garland," 26 Apr. 2021 Liu had stumbled upon a meticulous record of the Chinese workers buried and removed from Block 14 from 1917 to 1928. oregonlive, "They were paved over and forgotten for decades. Now a cemetery garden will honor Chinese workers buried in SE Portland," 25 Apr. 2021 The sketch is an excellent showcase for Villaseñor’s meticulous impressions, which are perfectly observed, down to the hand motions of her Mulaney and the nasal laugh of her Silverman. Charu Sinha, Vulture, "Melissa Villaseñor Is Your Virtual Film Independent Spirit Awards Host," 23 Apr. 2021 Forensic information travels through a long, meticulous chain of custody, however, and a more secure and expertly managed crime scene doesn’t eliminate the possibility of mistakes down the line. Henry Gass, The Christian Science Monitor, "CSI Houston: How a Texas lab has remade the science of forensics," 23 Apr. 2021 Because color photography was not yet reliable in the 1890s, the division relied on the meticulous observation and brushwork of Newton and her colleagues to record the bounty harvested from the continent’s sprawling orchards and fields. Jonathon Keats, Forbes, "These Female Watercolorists, Guardians Of American Agriculture, Proved That Science Illustration Can Be High Art," 21 Apr. 2021 Edith impressed her new housemate with her meticulous cleaning skills., "Edith Turner heads down a street in Pontiac in the early morning hours on Friday, October 18, 2019, to the bus stop on Telegraph Road...," 18 Apr. 2021 Shupe crafts another divine yarn, bursting with meticulous period detail and enough heat to steam up any age. Maureen Lee Lenker,, "Hot Stuff: March 2021 romance novels embrace learning to love yourself," 1 Apr. 2021 So when a Milwaukee FBI agent showed them video surveillance from the Brookfield break-in that had survived thieves' meticulous efforts to eliminate such evidence, Ohio authorities recognized the figures and the methods as Quinn. Bruce Vielmetti, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Ohio man, 55, charged in $7 million Brookfield jewelry heist," 18 Nov. 2020

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.

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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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Time Traveler for meticulous

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The first known use of meticulous was in 1827

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Last Updated

29 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Meticulous.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 9 May. 2021.

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More Definitions for meticulous



English Language Learners Definition of meticulous

: very careful about doing something in an extremely accurate and exact way


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

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