• synonyms


See more synonyms for hairsplitting on Thesaurus.com
  1. the making of unnecessarily fine distinctions.
Show More
  1. characterized by such distinctions: the hairsplitting arguments of a political debate.
Show More

Origin of hairsplitting

First recorded in 1820–30; hair + splitting
Related formshair·split·ter, noun


See more synonyms for on Thesaurus.com
2. quibbling, niggling, nitpicking, captious.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words


Examples from the Web for hairsplitting

Historical Examples

  • Of what practical use then, it may be asked, is all this hairsplitting?

    Some Principles of Maritime Strategy

    Julian Stafford Corbett

  • Hairsplitting terms like this I do not often employ, but, blessings on the head of Cadmus!

  • The mass of the party, he said, did not trouble their heads about theories, but plodded along unmindful of hairsplitting.

  • It was fine legal reasoning, not without some of that hairsplitting for which Jefferson reproached Randolph.

    Thomas Jefferson

    Gilbert Chinard

British Dictionary definitions for hairsplitting


  1. the making of petty distinctions
Show More
  1. occupied with or based on petty distinctions
Show More
Derived Formshairsplitter, noun
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