[puhngk-choo-uh l]
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  1. strictly observant of an appointed or regular time; not late; prompt.
  2. made, occurring, etc., at the scheduled or proper time: punctual payment.
  3. pertaining to or of the nature of a point.
  4. punctilious.

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 formspunc·tu·al·ly, adverbpunc·tu·al·ness, nounnon·punc·tu·al, adjectivenon·punc·tu·al·ly, adverbnon·punc·tu·al·ness, nounun·punc·tu·al, adjectiveun·punc·tu·al·ly, adverbun·punc·tu·al·ness, noun
Can be confusedpunctilious punctual
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

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British Dictionary definitions for punctual


  1. arriving or taking place at an arranged time; prompt
  2. (of a person) having the characteristic of always keeping to arranged times, as for appointments, meetings, etc
  3. obsolete precise; exact; apposite
  4. maths consisting of or confined to a point in space
Derived Formspunctuality, nounpunctually, adverb

Word Origin for punctual

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

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