meticulous

meticulous
meticulous
is derived from the Latin word metus ‘fear’, and in the 16c and 17c it had a corresponding meaning ‘fearful, timid’. Then the word went out of use, only to reappear in the early 19c in a completely different sense, ‘over-careful about details’. This was the meaning known to the Fowler brothers when they wrote The King's English at the turn of the century, and they did not care for it, classing it among the ‘stiff, full-dress, literary, or out-of-the-way words’. Between then and now, it lost (almost completely, but not always quite) its connotations of excess, and settled down in the meaning it now has, ‘careful, punctilious, precise’. If it differs at all from these synonyms, it is perhaps from a vestigial shadow of this strange past rather than any real distinction in meaning:

• Utz has planned his own funeral with meticulous care —Bruce Chatwin, 1988

• Very many tedious hours were spent on the dull and routine tasks of listing, plotting on graphs, meticulously checking and classifying —I. Young, 1990.


Modern English usage. 2014.

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • meticulous — UK US /məˈtɪkjələs/ adjective ► very careful to consider every detail in a process: meticulous about sth »She was meticulous about keeping her expense receipts properly filed. »A combination of innovation and meticulous attention to detail have… …   Financial and business terms

  • Meticulous — Me*tic u*lous, a. [L. meticulosus, fr. metus fear: cf. F. m[ e]ticuleux.] Timid; fearful. [archaic] [1913 Webster] 2. Taking great care to get every detail correct; working thoroughly and with precision; as, meticulous workmanship. [PJC] {Me*tic… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • meticulous — I adjective alert, assiduous, attentive, careful, circumspect, clean, conscientious, considered, correct, diligens, diligent, exact, exacting, faithful, fastidious, finical, finicking, finicky, fussy, gingerly, heedful, industrious, mindful,… …   Law dictionary

  • meticulous — (adj.) 1530s, fearful, timid, from L. meticulosus fearful, timid, lit. full of fear, from metus fear, dread, apprehension, anxiety, of unknown origin. Sense of fussy about details is first recorded in English 1827, from Fr. méticuleux timorously… …   Etymology dictionary

  • meticulous — *careful, scrupulous, punctilious, punctual Analogous words: fastidious, finicky, particular, fussy, pernickety, *nice: accurate, exact, precise, *correct …   New Dictionary of Synonyms

  • meticulous — [adj] detailed, perfectionist accurate, cautious, conscientious, conscionable, crossing the t’s*, dotting the i’s*, exact, fastidious, fussy, heedful, microscopic, nitpicking*, painstaking, particular, persnickety*, picky, precise, punctilious,… …   New thesaurus

  • meticulous — ► ADJECTIVE ▪ very careful and precise. DERIVATIVES meticulously adverb meticulousness noun. ORIGIN originally in the sense «fearful», later «overcareful about detail»: from Latin meticulosus fearful …   English terms dictionary

  • meticulous — [mə tik′yo͞o ləs, mə tik′yələs] adj. [L meticulosus, fearful < metus, fear] extremely or excessively careful about details; scrupulous or finicky SYN. CAREFUL meticulously adv. meticulousness n. meticulosity [mə tik′yo͞oläs′ə tē, mə… …   English World dictionary

  • meticulous — me|tic|u|lous [mıˈtıkjuləs] adj [Date: 1800 1900; : Latin; Origin: meticulosus afraid , from metus fear ] very careful about small details, and always making sure that everything is done correctly ▪ He kept meticulous accounts. ▪ Their planning… …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • Meticulous — Wikipedia does not have an encyclopedia article for Meticulous (search results). You may want to read Wiktionary s entry on meticulous instead.wiktionary:Special:Search/meticulous …   Wikipedia

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