fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈsti-dē-əs How to pronounce fastidious (audio) , fə- \

Definition of fastidious

1a : showing or demanding excessive delicacy or care fastidious attention to detail— Robert Evett
b : reflecting a meticulous, sensitive, or demanding attitude fastidious workmanship
c : having high and often capricious standards : difficult to please critics … so fastidious that they can talk only to a small circle of initiates— Granville Hicks
2 : having complex nutritional requirements fastidious microorganisms
3 archaic : scornful

Other Words from fastidious

fastidiously adverb
fastidiousness noun

Fastidious Has a Disgusting Past

There's nothing offensive about fastidious workmanship, and yet the word fastidious traces to the Latin noun fastidium, meaning "aversion" or "disgust." "Fastidium" itself is probably a combination of the Latin words fastus, meaning "arrogance," and taedium, meaning "irksomeness" or "disgust."("Taedium" also gave us our "tedium.") In keeping with its Latin roots, fastidious once meant "haughty," "disgusting," and "disgusted," although those uses are now archaic or obsolete. The word came to be applied to someone who is squeamish or overly difficult to please, and later, to work which reflects a demanding or precise attitude.

Examples of fastidious in a Sentence

My mother had always been the most fastidious and organized of people—a wet ring left on her coffee table by a glass could drive her to distraction. — John B. Judis, New Republic, 14 Oct. 1996 "I'll stop off and get us a sandwich," said Matthew.  … Tony, a fastidious eater, sighed. — Penelope Lively, City of the Mind, 1991 Though he prides himself on being hip, he is too fastidious to do anything dangerous or dirty. — Jay McInerney, Bright Lights, Big City, 1984 He is fastidious about keeping the house clean. She was too fastidious to do anything that might get her dirty.
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Recent Examples on the Web Some believe that’s the result of sloppiness among traffickers, who often process multiple substances and aren’t exactly fastidious about avoiding cross-contamination. John Keilman,, 9 Nov. 2021 Properly restoring a 280 SL can be an expensive proposition, as the cars, while simple in appearance, are fastidiously made and require equally fastidious attention to detail when being rebuilt from the ground up. Robert Ross, Robb Report, 25 Oct. 2021 The two men, both Slovak Jews who escaped from Auschwitz, secretly recorded fastidious notes about details of the death camp unknown to the outside world. Andrew Lapin,, 29 Sep. 2021 Mercedes was a girly girl, fastidious about her personal appearance and laser-focused on business at an early age. Ej Dickson, Rolling Stone, 23 Sep. 2021 For his part, Wilkins kept fastidious pace and showcased his own dexterity — not least of all at its explosive finale. Washington Post, 19 Sep. 2021 For example, fastidious Virgos may have their calendar, chequebook, and contacts list under control, but their bulging carry-all bag could use a little attention. Sara Coughlin,, 9 Sep. 2021 Many, like Mathias Bengtsson, consider the tech to be just the first step in a long, fastidious process. Helena Madden, Robb Report, 11 Sep. 2021 Commercial apple and peach growers (and fastidious home orchardists) spray preventively against fungal disease. Washington Post, 7 July 2021

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

15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 3

History and Etymology for fastidious

Middle English, from Latin fastidiosus, from fastidium disgust, probably from fastus arrogance (probably akin to Latin fastigium top) + taedium irksomeness — more at tedium

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The first known use of fastidious was in the 15th century

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Last Updated

16 Nov 2021

Cite this Entry

“Fastidious.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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More Definitions for fastidious



English Language Learners Definition of fastidious

: very careful about how you do something
: liking few things : hard to please
: wanting to always be clean, neat, etc.


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈsti-dē-əs How to pronounce fastidious (audio) \

Kids Definition of fastidious

: hard to please : very particular a fastidious dresser


fas·​tid·​i·​ous | \ fa-ˈstid-ē-əs, fə- How to pronounce fastidious (audio) \

Medical Definition of fastidious

: having complex nutritional requirements fastidious microorganisms used of bacteria that grow only in specially fortified artificial culture media

More from Merriam-Webster on fastidious

Nglish: Translation of fastidious for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of fastidious for Arabic Speakers


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