punctilio

noun punc·til·io \ ˌpəŋk-ˈti-lē-ˌō \

Definition of punctilio

plural punctilios
1 : a minute detail of conduct in a ceremony or in observance of a code
2 : careful observance of forms (as in social conduct)

punctilio was our Word of the Day on 02/16/2008. Hear the podcast!

How Should You Use punctilio?

We'll get straight to the point: there are a number of English words that come from Latin pungere, meaning "to prick" or "to sting." "Punctilio" is one of these words. It traces back to "pungere" by way of Italian puntiglio (meaning "small point," "point of honor," or "scruple"), Spanish puntillo (the diminutive of punto, meaning "point"), and Latin punctum (also meaning "point"). The adjective punctilious, meaning "marked by or concerned about precise accordance with the details of codes or conventions, is a close relative of "punctilio." Do you have any guesses for other "pungere" derivatives? "Punctuate," "puncture," "compunction," "punctual," and "pungent" are some of the more common ones.

Origin and Etymology of punctilio

Italian & Spanish; Italian puntiglio point of honor, scruple, from Spanish puntillo, from diminutive of punto point, from Latin punctum


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