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I have used the word “persnickety” all my life without giving it a thought. But when the word came up in a conversation this morning with my husband, I realized there were two pronunciations to the word: “persnickety” and “pernickety.” I also believe the word is becoming somewhat archaic, but I don’t care. I was raised by a grandmother from the Midwest, and I use every word and phrase I ever heard her say. For me, the word will always be “persnickety.”


   /pərˈsnɪkɪti/ Show Spelled[per-snik-i-tee] Show IPA–adjective Informal .

1. overparticular; fussy.

2. snobbish or having the aloof attitude of a snob.

3. requiring painstaking care.

Also, pernickety.

1885–90; orig. Scots, var. of pernickety

—Related forms

per·snick·et·i·ness, noun

1. nitpicking, finicky.

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2010.
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Link To pernickety

World English Dictionary

pernickety or persnickety (pəˈnɪkɪtɪ) [Click for IPA pronunciation guide]


1. excessively precise and attentive to detail; fussy

2. (of a task) requiring close attention; exacting

[C19: originally Scottish, of unknown origin]

persnickety or persnickety


[C19: originally Scottish, of unknown origin]

per’nicketiness or persnickety


per’snicketiness or persnickety


Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Word Origin & History


1808, “precise, fastidious,” extended form of Scot. pernicky, of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow from particular.


1905, alteration of pernickety (q.v.).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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