Adjective > Fastidious

Adjective > Fastidious

Our word “fastidious” comes from a Latin one meaning “dislike, or squeamishness.” In English, “fastidious” first meant “disgusting,” then “disgusted,” then “easily disgusted and very hard to please.” It’s this latest meaning that survives today.

If things or people are fastidious, that means they’re extremely picky and careful about details.

Part of speech:

Adjective: “she’s fastidious about her grooming,” “her grooming is fastidious.”

Other forms:

Fastidiously, fastidiousness.

how to use it:

The word “fastidious” is semi-common, so it’s good for calling just a bit of extra attention to your idea.

The tone is often positive, suggesting that people are spending plenty of time and effort on making things just right, even though they don’t have to: “They made the repairs so fastidiously.” But occasionally the tone is negative, suggesting that people are wasting time and effort on details that really don’t matter: “I was so fastidious about my makeup that I made myself late.”

You might talk about fastidious people and personalities, or fastidious tasks or jobs: the kind that demand attention to detail.

Or, talk about someone’s fastidious taste, intellect, vocabulary, cooking skills, attention to color and design, etc. Someone might have a fastidious eye for fashion, a fastidious insistence on quality, and so on.

Notice how you can say that people are fastidious about something: “This company is fastidious about safety.

“Embracing order and constraint in the face of threat, tight-leaning friends and family members are even more fastidious: They may be disinfecting groceries by hand or wiping down door knobs incessantly.”
— Michele Gelfand, Salon, 28 May 2020

“He was fastidious about his fine black suit and stovepipe hat, extracting lint from the fabric and glaring at it as if it were a poison spider before flicking it.”
— Coleson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad: A Novel, 2016