1. Showing or acting with extreme care and concern for details.
2. Archaic Excessively careful and precise.
[From Latin metīculōsus, timid, from metus, fear.]
me·tic′u·losi·ty (-lŏsĭ-tē), me·ticu·lous·ness n.
Synonyms: meticulous, painstaking, careful, scrupulous, fastidious, punctilious
These adjectives mean showing or marked by attentiveness to all aspects or details. Meticulous and painstaking stress extreme care: "He had throughout been almost worryingly meticulous in his business formalities" (Arnold Bennett). Repairing the fine lace entailed slow and painstaking work.
Careful suggests circumspection and solicitude: A careful examination of the gem showed it to be fake.
Scrupulous suggests care prompted by conscience: "He was scrupulous about paying his debts and equally scrupulous about collecting what was owed to him" (Pauli Murray).
Fastidious implies concern, often excessive, for the requirements of taste: "Your true lover of literature is never fastidious" (Robert Southey).
Punctilious specifically applies to minute details of conduct: "The more unpopular an opinion is, the more necessary is it that the holder should be somewhat punctilious in his observance of conventionalities generally" (Samuel Butler).
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2022 by HarperCollins Publishers. All rights reserved.
Indo-European & Semitic Roots Appendices
Thousands of entries in the dictionary include etymologies that trace their origins back to reconstructed proto-languages. You can obtain more information about these forms in our online appendices:
The Indo-European appendix covers nearly half of the Indo-European roots that have left their mark on English words. A more complete treatment of Indo-European roots and the English words derived from them is available in our Dictionary of Indo-European Roots.