Words nearby nit-picky
MORE ABOUT NIT PICKY
What does nit-picky mean?
Nit-picky is an informal way to describe someone who is overly focused on tiny, unimportant details, especially when criticizing something. It can also be used to describe such criticism.
Nitpick (or nit-pick) is a verb meaning to point out the very minor flaws or mistakes in something, or to criticize it in this way. Nit-picky turns this action into an adjective. It is sometimes seen without a hyphen (nitpicky).
Example: Mrs. Jones is always so nit-picky when she grades our English papers—she takes points off for word choices that aren’t even mistakes!
Where does nit-picky come from?
The first records of the word nitpick come from the mid-1900s, and nit-picky is first recorded in the 1960s. Nits are the eggs or young of lice. They are extremely tiny and hard to see with the naked eye. To pick nits out of someone’s hair is extremely tedious (or painstaking, if you’re being nit-picky about it).
Of course, it’s important to pick nits out of hair. But someone who’s described as nit-picky isn’t picking out important things. They’re pointing out tiny mistakes or criticizing small things, often simply to complain or show that they’ve noticed them. There are other, more neutral ways to describe someone who is very particular about things, such as saying that they’re meticulous or exacting. But nit-picky is always used in a negative way.
Someone who’s nit-picky cares a little too much about things that other people probably won’t even notice or consider to be a problem. It seems like nothing is ever perfect for a nit-picky person—they find something wrong in anything that’s presented to them, so they’re often also thought of as pessimistic. The word tends to be used in situations where things are presented for review or criticism. An editor’s changes might be considered nit-picky if they’re about very minor issues. A boss or teacher might be called nit-picky (behind their back) if they manage to find “mistakes” in every project or piece of work.
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How is nit-picky used in real life?
Nit-picky is very informal and is always used negatively, especially in contexts where people examine little details.
This is the most nit-picky of complaints, but it bugs me when a clock or watch appears in a film/TV show set pre-1980's and the second hand "ticks" at one beat per second. Mechanical second-hands sweep continuously. #horologytwitter
— G. will be at ECCC JJ-13 (@GWillowWilson) September 19, 2019
As an editor, I wish more reviewers would write reports like this. If a paper is nicely done, reviewers shouldn't feel like doing their job requires identifying nit-picky errors just to have written "a report."
— Brigitte Madrian (@BrigitteMadrian) July 10, 2019
Writing question: I feel like this will vary significantly from person to person so I am curious, when do you decide to show your work to others? I like to show my screenplays at the point my personal notes become more nit-picky than truly constructive changes. #writer
— Emily Moore (@Emily_Is_Moore) November 25, 2019
Try using nit-picky!
Is nit-picky used correctly in the following sentence?
James called Kim nit-picky after she listed every single little thing that they got wrong in the historical movie.
How to use nit-picky in a sentence
Were you being extra picky in the wake of Twilight because you knew you were under the microscope?
Surveys may portray us as picky, but in reality our foodie culture is thriving as never before.
“Those kids are starting to be of legal drinking age,” McMahan says of once-fussy eaters who he hopes remain picky drinkers, too.
I would hope that more people—especially editors—would be nit-pickers!Female Journalist Gets Rape Threats Over Comic Book Criticism|Tauriq Moosa|April 21, 2014|DAILY BEAST
He was extremely picky about what he ate and insisted that foods be arranged in a particular order on his plate.We Already Know What Adam Lanza’s Real Motive Was at Sandy Hook|Michael Daly|November 26, 2013|DAILY BEAST
If we had the sense of a Venusian water nit, we'd blast out of here so quick our tail fumes'd take off with us!Star Born|Andre Norton
Eppes as glatt knn es nit sein, glatt as denn nemmt mn un' mn kummt?
Un' as werd wieder der igener Gepilder, ws frher; Alle lufen un' me wisst nit wuhin.
Die ugen kucken in offenem Korben-minche, nor see sehn die Wrter nit.
Nor sie kuckt trucken, wie varstinert, in ihr Ssider; nit sie wint, nit sie dawent.