per·​snick·​e·​ty pər-ˈsni-kə-tē How to pronounce persnickety (audio)
: fussy about small details : fastidious
a persnickety teacher
: having the characteristics of a snob
: requiring great precision
a persnickety job
persnicketiness noun

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 the late 19th century 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 conjecture-no one knows for sure.

Examples of persnickety in a Sentence

as she got older, she got more and more persnickety lacked the patience to deal with such persnickety tasks as hanging wallpaper
Recent Examples on the Web All are notoriously persnickety when evaluating food prepared by the contestants, and the bar for excellence rises as the season progresses. Mary Colurso |, al, 13 Sep. 2023 But Wilson is in his comfort zone as ever with Anderson, playing Francis’s persnickety dedication to the trip’s itinerary with his typical generosity. Joe Reid, Vulture, 26 June 2023 Earlier, more persnickety machines would operate between 50% and 75% of the available time, vexing officials trying to schedule a facility’s users. Byadrian Cho,, 4 May 2023 These include the General, who is granted symbolic control over the city for the duration of Carnival by Ivrea’s actual mayor, and the Assistant Grand Chancellor, who records the successful completion of each persnickety tradition in a large, fancy book. Jon Mooallem Andrea Frazzetta, New York Times, 17 Mar. 2023 And on Instagram, her makeup artist, Georgie Eisdell, proved once again, that chess can be fashion: In an ideal world, women wouldn't be responsible for growing and maintaining what is basically an extremely persnickety houseplant on their heads at all times. Jenny Singer, Glamour, 1 Mar. 2021 An artist whose work is popular with both persnickety art collectors as well as by everyday people who might simply be attracted to the coruscation of vibrant colors that seem to fling off of his canvases and into our frontal cortexes. San Diego Union-Tribune, 20 Feb. 2023 From game show hosts, old-timey movie types, interviewers, and persnickety chefs, to Bill Clinton, Frank Sinatra, Ronald Reagan, and Donald Trump, Phil Hartman indeed held Saturday Night Live together with his extraordinary talent. Dennis Perkins,, 13 Dec. 2022 Okonedo leans gleefully into her purring diva, a cat on a hot tin riverboat, and Branagh's Poirot has the persnickety calm of a man who has never been proved wrong. Leah Greenblatt,, 7 Feb. 2022 See More

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

Word History


alteration of pernickety

First Known Use

1889, in the meaning defined at sense 1a

Time Traveler
The first known use of persnickety was in 1889


Dictionary Entries Near persnickety

Cite this Entry

“Persnickety.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 28 Nov. 2023.

Last Updated: - Updated example sentences
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