- the making of unnecessarily fine distinctions.
- characterized by such distinctions: the hairsplitting arguments of a political debate.
Origin of hairsplitting
SynonymsSee more synonyms for hairsplitting on Thesaurus.com
2. quibbling, niggling, nitpicking, captious.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for hair-splitting
Much of the theological dispute might seem like hair-splitting, but the stakes were high.Plotting Nicea III Could Be Pope Francis's Masterstroke
June 8, 2014
There is my defence on Terminus, or better say on hair-splitting.Erasmus and the Age of Reformation
It is a danger to which ingenious and hair-splitting writers are liable.Salem Witchcraft and Cotton Mather
Charles W. Upham
This is not hair-splitting in the opprobrious sense of that term.Essays In Pastoral Medicine
I know your hair-splitting habit; I at once anticipate your reply.The Dodd Family Abroad, Vol. II.(of II)
Charles James Lever
But he disliked the corrupt method of his countrymen, who indulged in hair-splitting, casuistry, and subtleties.History of the Jews, Vol. V (of 6)
- the making of petty distinctions
- occupied with or based on petty distinctions
Word Origin and History for hair-splitting
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper