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

Minutia Has Latin Roots

Minutia was borrowed into English in the 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 (pronounced \muh-NOO-shee-ee) or, on occasion, as simply minutia. The 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.

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.

Examples of minutia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Got turned off by the constant flow of labor minutia. John Shea, San Francisco Chronicle, 10 Mar. 2022 Inescapably, there is that minutia that no band with an extensive legacy can ever avoid. Jason Pettigrew, SPIN, 3 Mar. 2022 Plenty of people who got rich in Silicon Valley have bought vineyards or started wineries; few betray the obsessive attention to minutia that Harvey does. Esther Mobley, San Francisco Chronicle, 2 Feb. 2022 That came after four straight days of largely fruitless negotiating sessions that focused on exchanging proposals in areas of relative minutia. Ronald Blum, chicagotribune.com, 26 Feb. 2022 All this delving into the minutia obscures the main issue: Che Diaz is extremely annoying. Louis Staples, Harper's BAZAAR, 27 Jan. 2022 The public doesn’t need to follow every minutia of City Hall or how their local County Commissioner approved last week’s land sale. Anthony Hennen, National Review, 26 Oct. 2021 In addition to the presidents and prime ministers, the summit has also attracted activists and experts who are able to engage on the minutia of emissions and who have been clanging the alarm on global warming for decades — or even just a few months. Washington Post, 2 Nov. 2021 Leisure's 2021 World's Best Awards, to handle all the minutia required in making this life-changing safari possible, including accommodations, internal transportation, and requisite advance permits, plus the guidance of a personal safari director. Paul Rubio, Travel + Leisure, 28 Nov. 2021 See More

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.

First Known Use of minutia

1748, 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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The first known use of minutia was in 1748

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Dictionary Entries Near minutia

minute wheel



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Last Updated

15 Apr 2022

Cite this Entry

“Minutia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minutia. Accessed 17 May. 2022.

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