per·​fec·​tion·​ism | \ pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌni-zəm How to pronounce perfectionism (audio) \

Definition of perfectionism

1a : the doctrine that the perfection of moral character constitutes a person's highest good
b : the theological doctrine that a state of freedom from sin is attainable on earth
2 : a disposition to regard anything short of perfection as unacceptable

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Other Words from perfectionism

perfectionist \ pər-​ˈfek-​sh(ə-​)nist How to pronounce perfectionist (audio) \ noun or adjective
perfectionistic \ pər-​ˌfek-​shə-​ˈni-​stik How to pronounce perfectionistic (audio) \ adjective

Examples of perfectionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web Kubrick, too, was often described in terms of his apparent coldness, austerity, and perfectionism. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, "The Well-Tempered Synthesizer," 15 Sep. 2020 Looking at the map of her life, Paulson traces the origin of her perfectionism to her upbringing. Roxane Gay, Harper's BAZAAR, "Sarah Paulson Has No Fear," 22 Sep. 2020 Calligraphers are used to writing flawless wedding invitations; in this case, Heller encouraged her scribes to set aside their usual perfectionism. Ted Scheinman, Smithsonian Magazine, "A New Edition of ‘Pride and Prejudice’ Crosses Its T’s and Dots Its I’s," 15 Sep. 2020 Carlos’s perfectionism grew into a kind of wedge between her and her audience. Will Stephenson, Harper's Magazine, "The Well-Tempered Synthesizer," 15 Sep. 2020 But the truth is, perfectionism is harmful even without a global pandemic throwing a wrench into our routines. Aytekin Tan,, "How holding onto a perfectionist mindset hinders your progress," 1 Sep. 2020 Oh, and my personal favorite: exercises for battling perfectionism. Anna Borges, SELF, "41 Mental Health Apps That Will Make Life a Little Easier," 24 Aug. 2020 Ahead of the film's screening, Day spoke with The Hollywood Reporter about her navigation of mental health and perfectionism within an Indian-American family, as well as the importance of diverse storytelling. Sharareh Drury, The Hollywood Reporter, "Director Sujata Day on Exploring Mental Health in Feature Film Debut 'Definition Please'," 14 Aug. 2020 Time, his own perfectionism, and the reactions of a bunch of strangers off the street. Darryn King, Wired, "The Last of Us Part II and Its Crisis-Strewn Path to Release," 10 June 2020

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'perfectionism.' 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 perfectionism

1835, in the meaning defined at sense 1b

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Time Traveler for perfectionism

Time Traveler

The first known use of perfectionism was in 1835

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Statistics for perfectionism

Last Updated

14 Oct 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perfectionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Oct. 2020.

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More Definitions for perfectionism


per·​fec·​tion·​ism | \ pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌniz-əm How to pronounce perfectionism (audio) \

Medical Definition of perfectionism

: 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

Britannica English: Translation of perfectionism for Arabic Speakers

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