The original Latin word is meticulosus, meaning 'beset by small fears.' (Read Fowler for his pertaining phillipic.)

Meticulous is now used as 'overly conscientious, precise,' which is actually the meaning of punctilious. I am met with blank stares when I use punctilious. It's a lost cause, like cohort.

Hmmm, my dictionary (the Concise Oxford Dictionary, Ninth Edition, 1995) gives only the commonly understood meaning for meticulous, though it does give the etymology that kessenich mentions.

It also defines punctilious as being particularly attentive to formality or etiquette, which would not be synonmous with how people use meticulous.

I cringe inwardly when I don't feel free to use a word that means exactly what I want to say, because it is either generally unknown or, worse, known incorrectly.

Just look at what happened when David Howard correctly used the word niggardly. The pink monkey has to decide whether to be emself and take the beatings, or blend in and possibly feel badly about emself.

Me*tic"u*lous (?), a. [L. meticulosus, fr. metus fear: cf. F. m'eticuleux.]

Timid; fearful.

-- Me*tic"u*lous*ly, adv.


© Webster 1913.

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