minutia

noun
mi·​nu·​tia | \ mə-ˈnü-sh(ē-)ə How to pronounce minutia (audio) , mī-, -ˈnyü-\
plural minutiae\ mə-​ˈnü-​shē-​ˌē How to pronounce minutiae (audio) , -​ˌī , mī-​ , -​ˈnyü-​ , -​sh(ē-​)ə \

Definition of minutia

: a minute or minor detail usually used in plural He was bewildered by the contract's minutiae.

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How to Pronounce Minutia and Minutiae

Minutiae, we’ve established, is the plural of minutia and also far more common in prose than the singular minutia. There is, however, confusion over the pronunciation of both the singular and the plural, and the confusion may be leading some to use the singular minutia where the plural minutiae is called for. Minutia, the singular, is generally pronounced \muh-NOO-shee-uh\ or \muh-NOO-shuh\, and the plural minutiae should be properly pronounced \muh-NOO-shee-ee\. But transcripts of spoken English show that this is not always adhered to: minutia shows up in transcribed speech far more often than it does in edited writing, and usually in places where one would expect minutiae. This leads us to believe that the pronunciation of minutiae is merging with the pronunciation of minutia, or that minutia is being re-analyzed as a zero plural.

Minutia Has Latin Roots

Minutia was borrowed into English in the late 18th century from the Latin plural noun minutiae, meaning "trifles" or "details" and derived from the singular noun minutia, meaning "smallness." In English, minutia is most often used in the plural as either minutiae or, on occasion, as simply minutia. Latin minutia, incidentally, comes from minutus, an adjective meaning "small" that was created from the verb minuere, meaning "to lessen." A familiar descendant of minutus is minute.

Examples of minutia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The corporate and government decisions that led to that disconnect are central to ongoing investigations into the Max crashes, and the origins of those decisions rest in the critical minutia of engineering and certification. Michael Laris, Washington Post, "Changes to flawed Boeing 737 Max were kept from pilots, DeFazio says," 19 June 2019 The art of abstraction lies in knowing what is essential and what is minutia, what is signal and what is noise, what is trend and what is wiggle. Quanta Magazine, "Usain Bolt’s Split Times and the Power of Calculus," 3 Apr. 2019 Through extensive consumer testing, the designers were able to tweak all minutiae of the product – even minor details like placing white dots beneath the holes in the finger wheel and the length of the cord. Catherine Anderson, Scientific American, "5 of the Best-Designed Products Ever—and What Made Them Great," 10 Mar. 2017 But don’t let the minutiae fool you: bringing off-the-shelf computing power to space is a major backbone for an age of commercialization. Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, "The Saga of a Stranded Space Station Supercomputer," 18 Mar. 2019 The exact nuances and minutia of Spears' conservatorship aren't widely available, but the fact that Jamie is her conservator—and has been for over a decade—is common knowledge. Christopher Rosa, Glamour, "Here's Why Britney Spears Fans Are Posting #FreeBritney All Over Social Media," 23 Apr. 2019 The study was large, comprising ten separate research teams focusing on the minutia of the Kelly brothers' physiology, examining everything from epigenetics to gene expression. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "The First Results From NASA's Historic Twin Study Are Here," 11 Apr. 2019 Testing, conducted largely at Edwards Air Force Base, was often the site of frustrated engineers grappling with what seemed like minutia in order to make the Saturn V’s massive engines fire properly. Alex Hollings, Popular Mechanics, "The Saturn V Story: From Nazi Roots to America's Moon Rocket," 6 Feb. 2019 There’s no technical designator or bit of equipment minutiae that escapes his eye. Matt Gallagher, WSJ, "‘The Fighters’ Review: An Honest Reckoning," 16 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'minutia.' 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 minutia

1782, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for minutia

Latin minutiae trifles, details, from plural of minutia smallness, from minutus

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Statistics for minutia

Last Updated

22 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for minutia

The first known use of minutia was in 1782

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Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with minutia

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