per·​fec·​tion·​ism pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce perfectionism (audio)
: the doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person's highest good
: the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth
: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable
perfectionist noun or adjective
perfectionistic adjective

Examples of perfectionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Themes of deep longing and perfectionism that recurred in his lyrics and personality were present, too. Ross Scarano, New York Times, 5 June 2024 In fact, past administrations have routinely found themselves at similar odds with the Defense Department when their lofty goals met with Pentagon practicality and perfectionism. Julianne Smith, Foreign Affairs, 12 Feb. 2018 Weaknesses: Their tendency toward perfectionism may lead to a focus on minor details at the expense of broader strategic goals, potentially hindering progress or causing delays. Michelle Deal-Zimmerman, Baltimore Sun, 8 May 2024 Procrastination can sometimes be the manifestation of perfectionism, which can exacerbate anxiety, overwhelm and stress. Jasmine Browley, Essence, 14 May 2024 See all Example Sentences for perfectionism 

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

Word History

First Known Use

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

Time Traveler
The first known use of perfectionism was in 1835

Dictionary Entries Near perfectionism

Cite this Entry

“Perfectionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jun. 2024.

Medical Definition


per·​fec·​tion·​ism pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce perfectionism (audio)
: a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable
especially : the setting of unrealistically demanding goals accompanied by a disposition to regard failure to achieve them as unacceptable and a sign of personal worthlessness

More from Merriam-Webster on perfectionism

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!