pains·tak·ing (pānztā′kĭng, pānstā′kĭng)
1. Acting with, showing, or involving great care and attention. See Synonyms at meticulous.
2. Usage Problem Attended by difficulties; arduous.
Usage Note: Painstaking is a compound of pains and taking, though it often sounds as if it were made from pain and staking. A painstaking effort is one in which someone takes pains to do something right. The word is sometimes used to mean "arduous" or "difficult," almost as if it meant "painful," but this usage is widely considered to be a mistake. In our 2008 survey, 74 percent of the Usage Panel rejected the sentence Traveling by bus through such a huge country was a painstaking ordeal.
The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition copyright ©2020 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. 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.