per·​snick·​e·​ty | \ pər-ˈsni-kə-tē How to pronounce persnickety (audio) \

Definition of persnickety

1a : fussy about small details : fastidious a persnickety teacher
b : having the characteristics of a snob
2 : requiring great precision a persnickety job

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Other Words from persnickety

persnicketiness \ pər-​ˈsni-​kə-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce persnicketiness (audio) \ noun

Did You Know?

Persnickety people like things neat and tidy, but the etymology of persnickety doesn't provide the kind of clean, clear explanation that appeals to the fastidious. Persnickety was first documented in English in the late 19th century as an alteration of pernickety, a word that has the same meaning. Pernickety goes back to the early 1800s, but from there, the word's history gets messy. Some say pernickety might be from a child's version of particular; others, that the nick part came from association with knick-knack. Or perhaps the Latin prefix per-, meaning "thoroughly," played a role. But it's all conjecture-no one knows for sure.

Examples of persnickety in a Sentence

as she got older, she got more and more persnickety lacked the patience to deal with such persnickety tasks as hanging wallpaper
Recent Examples on the Web This summer offers all the variety even the most persnickety TV fan could want, with returning favorites and new series., "Summer TV 2019 heats up: Check out these cool shows," 4 June 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'persnickety.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of persnickety

1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

History and Etymology for persnickety

alteration of pernickety

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Time Traveler for persnickety

Time Traveler

The first known use of persnickety was in 1889

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Cite this Entry

“Persnickety.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 5 Dec. 2020.

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How to pronounce persnickety (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of persnickety

US, informal + disapproving : giving a lot of attention to details that are minor or not important

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