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PUNCTILIOUS

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PUNCTILIOUS

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sun May 21, 2006 11:03 pm

• punctilious •

Pronunciation: pêngk-ti-li-ês • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Precise concern for proper behavior, very closely observant of even the smallest details of social conventions. 2. More broadly, observant of the fine points of any activity.

Notes: Punctilious originally referred to an awareness of the punctilios (fine points) of the rules of proper conduct. However, a punctilio is today any fine point so the meaning of the adjective is broadening, too. A punctilious person is not quite scrupulous; scrupulous implies moral carefulness. A person who is sensitive to fine points in general is meticulous. "She is as scrupulous in avoiding slighting anyone as she is meticulous in carrying out her assignments at work."

In Play: Because we have so many near synonyms, we probably should restrict the use of today's Good Word to situations where rules of behavior are involved: "Justin Case is so punctilious in omitting disagreeable people from his invitation lists that his parties are all a right bore." However, it is currently acceptable to use it as a surrogate for meticulous: "Owen Cash is such a punctilious book-keeper that questions about company finances rarely emerge."

Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is shrouded in the fog of time. It apparently came from a Vulgar (spoken) Latin form that also became French pointilleux and Italian puntiglioso but we have no written example of it. It is based on or influenced by Latin punctus, the past participle of the verb pungere "to stick, prick". The remains of this same root are evident in borrowed words like pugilist and impugn, based on Latin in- "against" + pugnare "to fight", not to mention pygmy, which comes to us from Greek pygme "fist".
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Re: PUNCTILIOUS

Postby Bailey » Mon May 22, 2006 1:48 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:
Word History: based on Latin in- "against" + pugnare "to fight", not to mention pygmy, which comes to us from Greek pygme "fist".

and now pygmy always means truncated or small, a normal breed in miniature. I wonder how that happened?
Pyg·my also Pig·my (pgm)
n. pl. Pyg·mies
1. Greek Mythology A member of a race of dwarfs.
2. also pygmy A member of any of various peoples, especially of equatorial Africa and parts of southeast Asia, having an average height less than 5 feet (127 centimeters). Not in scientific use.
3. pygmy
a. An individual of unusually small size.
b. An individual considered to be of little or no importance.
adj.
1. also pygmy Of or relating to the Pygmies. Not in scientific use.
2. pygmy
a. Unusually or atypically small.
b. Unimportant; trivial.



[Middle English pigmie, from Latin Pygmae, the Pygmies, from Greek Pugmaioi, from pugm, cubit, fist; see peuk- in Indo-European roots.]

Don't forget pygymy animals, goats comes to mind, and rabbits.

mark

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Re: PUNCTILIOUS

Postby Stargzer » Wed May 24, 2006 2:55 pm

Dr. Goodword wrote:• punctilious •
. . . Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: 1. Precise concern for proper behavior, very closely observant of even the smallest details of social conventions. . . .

Notes: Punctilious originally referred to an awareness of the punctilios (fine points) of the rules of proper conduct. . . .


So, would someone who concentrates on the petty misdeeds of others be described as peccadillous?
Regards//Larry

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