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

Actually, too often perfectionism and procrastination are sisters. Jennifer King Lindley, Redbook, "Stop Trying to Be So Damn Perfect All the Time," 2 June 2017 Each reflects a movement toward pocket-size eccentricity and charm masking high-test pop perfectionism. Jon Caramanica, New York Times, "The New Indie Pop: Off-Kilter, Handmade, Whimsical and Emotional," 7 Mar. 2018 And rates of perfectionism have increased significantly. Jennifer Breheny Wallace, WSJ, "The Perils of the Child Perfectionist," 31 Aug. 2018 Negative perfectionism is linked to anger and rumination, such as obsessing about thoughts of inadequacy, according to a study published in the December 2010 issue of the International Journal of Psychology. Tori Rodriguez, Woman's Day, "9 Attitude Adjustments for a Happier Life," 18 Jan. 2011 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

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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Statistics for perfectionism

Last Updated

16 May 2019

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Time Traveler for perfectionism

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 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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a sum of money that is sent as a payment

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