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 minutia (audio)
-ˌī,
mī-,
-ˈnyü-,
-sh(ē-)ə
: a minute or minor detail
usually used in plural
He was bewildered by the contract's minutiae.

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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.

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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.

Examples of minutia in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Level 2 refers to minutiae or small details, such as bifurcations, endings, eyes and hooks. Partha Banerjee, Discover Magazine, 23 Jan. 2024 The trial, which began Oct. 2, revolved around accounting minutiae and days of dry testimony that were punctuated by heated courtroom outbursts and confrontations. Graham Kates, CBS News, 11 Jan. 2024 But this detailed study is itself a work of pure imagination, a choreographic poem in which the messy minutiae of collaboration is coordinated in theatrical space to lay bare the dirty human secrets of artistic creation. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 15 Dec. 2023 The detailed descriptions of the minutiae of daily life, as Eilish shops for milk and hurries her children off to school, were drawn directly from Lynch’s experience as a father, juggling his writing while caring for his two children. Alexandra Alter, New York Times, 3 Dec. 2023 This need to let the uncomfortableness fester and relish the minutia has long been part of Safdie’s career ethos. Whitney Friedlander, Los Angeles Times, 22 Dec. 2023 Who can find narrative momentum in the minutiae of peer review? Lauren Michele Jackson, The New Yorker, 12 Dec. 2023 To voluntarily advertise the minutiae of your life online, and then, in the same breath, defend against the potential backlash—that is the masochistic agony of posting! Rachel Sugar, Bon Appétit, 7 Dec. 2023 LaRochelle, who hadn’t been trying to stir up the fentanyl of it all with that first group text, has gotten more interested in the minutiae of park politics. Clio Chang, Curbed, 15 Nov. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'minutia.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

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

First Known Use

1748, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of minutia was in 1748

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Dictionary Entries Near minutia

Cite this Entry

“Minutia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minutia. Accessed 22 Feb. 2024.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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