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 But perhaps encouragingly, some in the company have come to see perfectionism as a risk to Instagram’s business. The Economist, "The camera always lies “No Filter” chronicles the rise of Instagram," 23 May 2020 Still, by the 1850s, Garrison’s increasingly scathing antipolitical perfectionism had become counterproductive, and his authority within the growing antislavery movement declined. Sean Wilentz, The New York Review of Books, "Abolition’s First Wave," 29 Apr. 2020 Netanyahu apparently apologized, writing off the incident as a testament to the perfectionism of Israeli security forces a year after the assassination of Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in November 1995. James Mcauley, Washington Post, "On his first day in Jerusalem, France’s Macron rips into Israeli security," 22 Jan. 2020 Becker, who died of esophageal cancer at age 67 in 2017, was acclaimed as a guitarist, songwriter and producer, renowned for his quiet perfectionism in the studio with longtime musical partner Donald Fagen. Pamela Chelin, Billboard, "Steely Dan's Walter Becker Estate Auction Fetches $3.3M on Hundreds of Guitars, Amps & More," 21 Oct. 2019 This finale suggests a mawkish yet useful fact: that the cure for perfectionism is love. Katy Waldman, The New Yorker, "What One Learns from Twenty-Two Years of Writer’s Block," 26 Feb. 2020 Her attention to detail and perfectionism are key to creating the kaleidoscope of jewel-like chocolate bonbons in the glass case. NBC News, "Korean American chocolatier makes unique treats that are rare to Western shops," 14 Feb. 2020 Addressing perfectionism is a growing need, specialists say, because the behavior is on the rise. Sandee Lamotte, CNN, "Searching for the 'perfect' meditation to fight perfectionism," 5 Feb. 2020 Fireworks followed, doubly wondrous as they were reflected in the water; Laura’s dashing son Cesare gave a touching speech praising la mama’s perfectionism in all things, and the dancing began. Vogue, "Magic in the Moonlight: Hamish Bowles Toasts Laura Sartori Rimini’s Birthday Over a Picture-Perfect Capri Weekend," 1 Oct. 2019

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

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The first known use of perfectionism was in 1835

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Statistics for perfectionism

Last Updated

29 May 2020

Cite this Entry

“Perfectionism.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Jun. 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

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More from Merriam-Webster on perfectionism

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with perfectionism

Spanish Central: Translation of perfectionism

Britannica English: Translation of perfectionism for Arabic Speakers

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