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 pluralHe 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 ubiquitous expression describes a common affliction of missing the big picture in a haze of minutia. Mare Czinar, azcentral, "This is one of Phoenix's best loved hikes. Here's why," 8 Jan. 2020 Although Democrats combined have spent more on the social media platform, much of their advertising is geared toward the minutia of the primary — not defeating Trump. Washington Post, "Early and pricey: Trump’s World Series ad an expensive pitch," 31 Oct. 2019 Of greater significance to any followers of rankings minutiae, Clemson (9-0) will start this year at a relatively puny No. Chuck Culpepper, The Denver Post, "In College Football Playoff committee’s first rankings, there’s a surprise No. 1," 6 Nov. 2019 Journals offer daily minutiae, half-thoughts and lucid daydreams. Jordan Runtagh, PEOPLE.com, "New Book of Jeff Buckley’s Journals and Belongings Offers a Vivid Self-Portrait of the Late Artist," 31 Oct. 2019 All the right minutia moments seem to be playing on repeat for these A’s, and as September wanes the big picture gets bigger and, yet, is fuzzy. Shayna Rubin, The Mercury News, "Athletics win thriller in Houston, take tough series 3-1 and top wild card spot for now," 12 Sep. 2019 Boards aren’t supposed to get into the minutiae of operations; that’s management’s job. Geoff Colvin, Fortune, "The Battle Between AT&T and its Angriest Investor is Just Getting Started. Here’s What to Watch for Next," 10 Sep. 2019 Yet, it and other cities like it, were tossed on a back burner while candidates traded barbs and debated at length the minutia of each other's health care proposals. Kat Stafford, Detroit Free Press, "Democratic debates put a national spotlight on Detroit. But candidates ignored its issues.," 5 Aug. 2019 In contrast to Peterson, Justin Roczniak is a wonk who likes to riff on the minutiae of city planning. Shaan Amin, The New Republic, "Can the Left Win YouTube?," 2 July 2019

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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Time Traveler for minutia

Time Traveler

The first known use of minutia was in 1782

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Statistics for minutia

Last Updated

16 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Minutia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minutia. Accessed 28 Feb. 2020.

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