per·​fec·​tion·​ism | \pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌni-zəm \

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 \ noun or adjective
perfectionistic \ pər-​ˌfek-​shə-​ˈni-​stik \ adjective

Examples of perfectionism in a Sentence

Recent Examples on the Web

The mental stress associated with perfectionism may also play a role. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why Perfectionists Get More Shin Splints," 8 June 2018 What most audience members wouldn’t have noticed, Beyoncé jumped right on, showcasing her attention to detail and perfectionism. Sam Tornow, Billboard, "7 Times Beyonce Was a Pro During Concert Mishaps," 2 July 2018 Sugar, saying no to my youngest, and perfectionism. Jane Larkworthy, The Cut, "Jamie O’Banion Wants You to Roll Tiny Needles Onto Your Face," 9 May 2018 Some writers like to get on a roll and just keep on rolling, letting the music scroll out of them, and some go word by word, phrase by phrase, chipping, plugging, smoothing, constant revision, perfectionism. John Timpane,, "Sean Penn visiting Free Library to promote his novel: 'It's the hand of anarchy offering a dance'," 26 Mar. 2018 At the same time, a lot of the pot-slamming perfectionism that shapes public perception of upscale kitchens comes from television. Casey Quackenbush / Hong Kong, Time, "'We're Not Educated.' The Untold Story of Lung King Heen, the World's First Michelin Three-Star Chinese Restaurant," 12 July 2018 Natural perfection and high-maintenance perfectionism, both at the same time. Constance Grady, Vox, "Beyoncé is a paradox. That’s what makes her an icon.," 16 June 2018 One of the most intriguing abstracts presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Conference in Minneapolis earlier this month was a preliminary look at potential links between perfectionism and injury risk. Alex Hutchinson, Outside Online, "Why Perfectionists Get More Shin Splints," 8 June 2018 Hiring new staff and instilling them with a sense of her perfectionism — without drowning under its demands herself — has been challenging, too. Jonathan Kauffman, San Francisco Chronicle, "Fernay McPherson and the movement that found success away from her native Fillmore," 11 May 2018

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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Last Updated

19 Sep 2018

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The first known use of perfectionism was in 1835

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More Definitions for perfectionism


per·​fec·​tion·​ism | \pər-ˈfek-shə-ˌniz-əm \

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

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Spanish Central: Translation of perfectionism

Britannica English: Translation of perfectionism for Arabic Speakers

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to clear from alleged fault or guilt

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