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[puhngk-choo-uh l] /ˈpʌŋk tʃu əl/
strictly observant of an appointed or regular time; not late; prompt.
made, occurring, etc., at the scheduled or proper time:
punctual payment.
pertaining to or of the nature of a point.
Origin of punctual
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin pūnctuālis of a point, equivalent to Latin pūnctu(s) a point, a pricking (pung(ere) to prick + -tus suffix of v. action) + -ālis -al1; see pungent
Related forms
punctually, adverb
punctualness, noun
nonpunctual, adjective
nonpunctually, adverb
nonpunctualness, noun
unpunctual, adjective
unpunctually, adverb
unpunctualness, noun
Can be confused
punctilious, punctual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2016.
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Examples from the Web for punctual
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He smiled to see the clematis unfolding its punctual wings about the porch.

    The Touchstone Edith Wharton
  • punctual to his word, Bill Dennant called for Shelton at one o'clock.

    The Island Pharisees John Galsworthy
  • punctual to the hour she made her appearance, and croaked out, "My price is three hundred pieces of gold."

  • He had been the soul of remembering, indeed, and rather more than punctual.

    Long Live the King Mary Roberts Rinehart
  • His scholars in Norfolk Island were expected to be punctual, his helpers to be content with the simple life which contented him.

    Victorian Worthies George Henry Blore
  • To conclude, the bishop was punctual, and kindly in his welcome of Erica to the altar.

    Feats on the Fiord Harriet Martineau
  • Then she was obliged to be punctual to a moment in her hours; a grievous yoke to her who had never been educated to submit to any.

  • To be sure—a punctual man, too, but with a terrible long family.

    Shining Ferry Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
British Dictionary definitions for punctual


arriving or taking place at an arranged time; prompt
(of a person) having the characteristic of always keeping to arranged times, as for appointments, meetings, etc
(obsolete) precise; exact; apposite
(maths) consisting of or confined to a point in space
Derived Forms
punctuality, noun
punctually, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin punctuālis concerning detail, from Latin punctum point
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for punctual

c.1400, from Medieval Latin punctualis, from Latin punctus "a pricking" (see point (n.)). Originally "having a sharp point; of the nature of a point;" meaning "prompt" first recorded 1670s, from notion of "insisting on fine points." Related: Punctually.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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