To argue about an inconsequential and trivial aspect of an issue: “When you are accused of being forty-five minutes late for an appointment, you are splitting hairs to say that you were really only forty minutes late.”
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
How to use split hairs in a sentence
Multiplicity, change, motion—who is to split hairs about them, who will make fine distinctions?The Positive Outcome of Philosophy | Joseph Dietzgen
It is possible to find a thousand faults in the most perfect work if one only hunts long enough and is willing to split hairs.A Cadet's Honor | Upton Sinclair
Starza and Tichnat split hairs while I dozed and thought about Fern.Exploiter's End | James Causey
Just get me back, and we'll split hairs about it when I get around this way again.Desire No More | Algirdas Jonas Budrys
Sir Blaise, unwilling to split hairs, took it as balsam, and hurriedly turned the conversation.The Lady of Loyalty House | Justin Huntly McCarthy
Other Idioms and Phrases with split hairs
Make trivial distinctions, quibble, as in Let's not split hairs about whose turn it is; I'll close up today and you do it tomorrow. This metaphoric idiom transfers dividing so fine an object as a single hair to other petty divisions. [Second half of 1600s]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.