A bit archaic. Today people are more likely to use nitpick. It means basically the same thing -- to insist upon unnecessary detail and technicality.

"You know, I'm just splitting hairs here, but, um, weren't we supposed to do one last check on those O-rings before launching the shuttle?"

  • to illustrate the subtle distinction between two things generally used as synonyms
  • to get pedantic and compare and contrast items which are often confused

    what was that quote from Princess Bride?

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