Origin of pernickety

1800–10; orig. Scots; of uncertain origin; the prefix per- occurs in a number of other expressive words in Scots, e.g. pergaddus thump, clatter, perskeet fastidious, perjink trim, neat
Related formsper·nick·et·i·ness, noun Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for pernickety

Historical Examples of pernickety

  • You didn't use to be so pernickety, when you was punchin' on the range, Lon.

  • I remember she was most pernickety about her blacks after my father's death.

    The Judge

    Rebecca West

  • She meant it was God's house, I s'pose, but she needn't have been so pernickety.

    The Girl from Montana

    Grace Livingston Hill

British Dictionary definitions for pernickety


US persnickety

adjective informal
  1. excessively precise and attentive to detail; fussy
  2. (of a task) requiring close attention; exacting
Derived Formspernicketiness or US persnicketiness, noun

Word Origin for pernickety

C19: originally Scottish, of unknown origin
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

Word Origin and History for pernickety

1808 (pernicktie, in Jamieson), "precise, fastidious," extended form of Scottish pernicky, of uncertain origin, perhaps somehow from particular.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper