punc·​tu·​al | \ˈpəŋk-chə-wəl, -chəl\

Definition of punctual 

: being on time : prompt

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Other Words from punctual

punctuality \ ˌpəŋk-​chə-​ˈwa-​lə-​tē \ noun
punctually \ ˈpəŋk-​chə-​wə-​lē , -​chə-​lē \ adverb

Synonyms & Antonyms for punctual


immediate, prompt, speedy, timely


belated, late, tardy

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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

Some particularly punctual power people are pushing back against all this. Bob Morris, Town & Country, "Two Blocks Away. Seriously!," 12 Dec. 2012 The top 20 most punctual airlines can be found below. 1. Condé Nast Traveler, "The World's Most On-Time Airline Is...," 8 Jan. 2018 New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick has made a career out of being detail-oriented and punctual. Ryan Wooden, ajc, "Patriots coach Bill Belichick is just like most Americans at Christmas time," 22 Dec. 2017 Likewise, the Media/Elwyn line went from being punctual 56 percent of the time to 95 percent in that time period. Jason Laughlin, Philly.com, "Regional Rail One Year Later: Is SEPTA there yet?," 3 Nov. 2017 An ultra-low-cost carrier will never, ever try to be as punctual as a big legacy airline. Justin Bachman, Bloomberg.com, "What Do You Want, Cheap Airfare or an On-Time Flight?," 31 July 2017 As RCPO, my official duties included maintaining good order, discipline, security, and maintaining punctual training schedules. David A. Yovanno, Fortune, "How the Navy Prepared Me to Be a Better CEO," 28 May 2017 Occasionally gruff, relentlessly punctual and intensely private, Marcus cuts a different shape than his new ally. Theodore Schleifer, CNN, "Why Trump's No. 2 donor isn't asking for much," 21 May 2017 Generally, however, the report had good news for fliers overall: Airlines were more punctual, lost fewer bags, and bumped fewer customers in 2016 than in any other year since the study was started 26 years ago. Barbara Peterson, Condé Nast Traveler, "Stats Show This Is the Best U.S. Airline," 10 Apr. 2017

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'punctual.' 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 punctual

1669, in the meaning defined above

History and Etymology for punctual

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

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Statistics for punctual

Last Updated

15 Nov 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for punctual

The first known use of punctual was in 1669

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More Definitions for punctual



English Language Learners Definition of punctual

: arriving or doing something at the expected or planned time


punc·​tu·​al | \ˈpəŋk-chə-wəl \

Kids Definition of punctual

: arriving or acting at the right time : not late

Other Words from punctual

puntually adverb

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More from Merriam-Webster on punctual

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for punctual

Spanish Central: Translation of punctual

Nglish: Translation of punctual for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of punctual for Arabic Speakers

Comments on punctual

What made you want to look up punctual? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


full of whispering sounds

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