Funny words, persnickety

The fussy Mr. Persnickety, pic:tvrecappersanonymus.

As I am writing about funny words I realize how often my first intuition about a word’s meaning is completely wrong.  Point in case: persnickety.  To me it sounds like sneaky or conniving – probably because of the “snickety” part that sound like “sneaky.”

Alas, it means something quite different: being fussy about details, being snobbish, requiring a great degree of precision.  if you require that everything is done just so you are a persnickety person.  Good synonyms would be nitpicking and finicky.

Here are some examples:

“The older he got the more persnickety he became.”

“Our math teacher is very persnickety, if not everything is perfect he gives you a bad grade.”

The word is fairly old and apparently of Scottish origin.  It is one of those words one uses rarely to make a point rather than incorporating it into the  everyday vocabulary.


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