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

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web With essays and stories about how food can heal, the importance of slowing down and looking at food as nourishment and how to let go of perfectionism, this is a self-care book as much as a cooking guide. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, 28 Dec. 2022 The standards of desirability and perfectionism have derailed so many of us. Gloria Lucas, Allure, 10 Nov. 2022 How does perfectionism tie into this kind of optimism? Jessica Dulong, CNN, 24 Oct. 2022 That perfectionism definitely translates to the workplace. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 20 Oct. 2022 Researchers in 2020 studying 414 Iranian bank employees found that workaholic behavior (such as perfectionism and work addiction) strongly predicted workplace incivility (such as hostility, privacy invasion, exclusionary behavior, and gossiping). Arthur C. Brooks, The Atlantic, 13 Oct. 2022 Whoever built this doubt and false-perfectionism into them needs a swift one somewhere! Carolyn Hax, Washington Post, 22 Aug. 2022 My intention was to create a safe place, a place without judgement, a place to be free of perfectionism and overthinking, a place to scream, release, feel freedom. Bianca London, Glamour, 29 July 2022 Virgos can be a bit nitpicky due to their perfectionism. Anna Kaufman, USA TODAY, 20 Oct. 2022 See More

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.

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 27 Jan. 2023.

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

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