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 \

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 Tee up alerts and reminders and write out or type notes, detailed schedules and to-do lists for big projects and office minutia. Ray A. Smith, WSJ, "How to Go Freelance During the Covid-19 Pandemic," 31 Jan. 2021 For more minutia, Clay Products Drive was originally Clay Products Road until renamed in 1963. David Reamer, Anchorage Daily News, "Flattop concerts, Anchorage’s dock and the price of cocaine in 1977: A historian answers reader questions," 14 Dec. 2020 At times, tempers flared among attorneys and commissioners negotiating the minutia of the recount, which in Milwaukee County is already behind schedule. In Dane County, meanwhile, the effort moved slowly but more smoothly. Laura Schulte, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, "Recount off to a slow start, especially in Milwaukee where Trump campaign observers object to thousands of ballots, envelopes," 21 Nov. 2020 And so the president’s rallies and debate performances are peppered with references to Russiagate conspiracy theories about unknown government officials, niche culture war topics, and the minutia of the Hunter Biden disinformation campaign. Gilad Edelman, Wired, "Republicans Pursue an Unlikely Closing Pitch: Amend Section 230," 27 Oct. 2020 And their heads were filled with the minutia of the scandals and subplots of the day as provided to them by conservative media. Eric Lach, The New Yorker, "“Before the Plague Came, I Had It Made”: Trump Strikes a Doubtful Note in Pennsylvania," 21 Oct. 2020 Christopher Combs: Jordana has an incredible ability to focus and focus on minutia to get to that needle in a haystack. CBS News, "Inside the FBI's race to stop Austin, Texas, bombing spree," 20 Oct. 2020 Segall and Christie tangled over the legal minutia, including which dictionary definition of deliberate applies to the PSC and whether a meeting requires speaking between the commissioners or only among the commissioners. Kyle Whitmire, al, "What the Alabama PSC doesn’t want you to see shows all you need to know," 9 Aug. 2020 The system was meant for announcements, rule changes, upcoming events, and other minutia of day-to-day Redditing. Robert Peck, Wired, "The Hate-Fueled Rise of r/The_Donald—and Its Epic Takedown," 3 Aug. 2020

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

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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Time Traveler for minutia

Time Traveler

The first known use of minutia was in 1748

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Last Updated

14 Feb 2021

Cite this Entry

“Minutia.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/minutia. Accessed 2 Mar. 2021.

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