punc·​tu·​al ˈpəŋk-chə-wəl How to pronounce punctual (audio)
: being on time : prompt
punctuality noun
punctually adverb

Did you know?

The original meaning of punctual described a puncture made by a surgeon. The word has meant lots of other things through the centuries, usually involving being precise about small points. And today punctuality is all about time; a punctual train or a punctual payment or a punctual person shows up "on the dot".

Examples of punctual in a Sentence

the punctual delivery of the daily mail
Recent Examples on the Web The most punctual airline in the Middle East and Africa was Oman Air, which celebrated its 30th birthday in 2023. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 4 Jan. 2024 Delta Air Lines was the most punctual of the larger North American airlines, with an on-time performance of 90.3% in October. Marisa Garcia, Forbes, 29 Nov. 2023 Numerous presenting stars got more time onstage than the winners, who were cheekily encouraged to wrap up their speeches by Anderson’s very game, very punctual mother. Shirley Li, The Atlantic, 16 Jan. 2024 However, digging a bit deeper into the data shows a more diverse portrait of punctual planes. Cnn.com Wire Service, The Mercury News, 4 Jan. 2024 Now, a new report is here to spotlight which airports are more punctual than others. Michael Cappetta, Travel + Leisure, 20 Dec. 2023 Carrie Ann Inaba says Madonna is a very punctual woman. Nicholas Rice, Peoplemag, 28 Oct. 2023 Be prepared To ensure a punctual arrival, Yoo said people should give themselves plenty of time to get ready, while factoring in gift wrapping, food preparations and travel time. Angelica Stabile, Fox News, 2 Dec. 2023 Yet, with a seemingly ever-deteriorating reputation as a punctual performer — fresh with new grumbles following Tuesday night’s show — Lauryn Hill did, in fact, have something to prove. Kyle Denis, Billboard, 20 Oct. 2023 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'punctual.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History


Middle English, having a sharp point, from Medieval Latin punctualis of a point, from Latin punctus pricking, point, from pungere to prick — more at pungent

First Known Use

1669, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of punctual was in 1669

Dictionary Entries Near punctual

Cite this Entry

“Punctual.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/punctual. Accessed 25 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition


punc·​tu·​al ˈpəŋ(k)-chə(-wə)l How to pronounce punctual (audio)
: acting or usually acting at an appointed time or at a regularly scheduled time
the trains were punctual
punctually adverb

More from Merriam-Webster on punctual

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