1 a : fussy about small details : fastidious
b : having the characteristics of a snob
2 : requiring great precision
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 1892 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 pure conjecture-no one knows for sure.
I love my friend Emma, but I also know how persnickety she can be, so I removed the grocery store cake from its plastic container and brought it to her party on a fancy plate.
"Traditionally, people have been a bit harsh on lexicographers, painting us as persnickety, nerdy, obsessive-compulsive types. And I don't think we're quite that bad." - From an article by Sarah Ogilvie in The San Francisco Chronicle, December 11, 2012
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