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I would like one or more synonyms for anal retentive.

I was chatting last night in an mmorpg, and any message with the word anal was banned. I ended up talking about my canal retentive minus c guild-mate instead.

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2  
Also, I forgot in my answer (and it's more of a comment): anal-retentive takes a hyphen! –  F'x Feb 16 '11 at 20:50
    
Hah! Trolling in trade chat, I see. I can take a wild guess as to which mmorpg it was. :) –  Will Feb 16 '11 at 22:03
    
@fx: it only requires a hyphen if used as an adjective: "He is anal retentive" & "What an anal-retentive way of doing things" –  horatio Feb 17 '11 at 15:08
    
I saw a sig quote once asking "does 'anal retentive' have a hyphen?". Of course an anal-retentive person would know, which has led to the shorthand in my social circle of "hyphenated". E.g. "he's being very hyphenated today". :-) (And @horatio, it's still an adjective in your first sentence, same as "blue" is in "he is blue".) –  Monica Cellio Aug 30 '11 at 20:30
    
Actually, I should have said "phrasal adjective." But you knew that already. –  horatio Aug 30 '11 at 21:18

8 Answers 8

up vote 7 down vote accepted

I would probably go with fussy. Other possibilities include finicky, persnickety, hair-splitting, or simply the broader difficult.

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You forgot 'nit-picking'? –  Jez Feb 17 '11 at 11:15
1  
@Jez: It could go, but without the hyphen: nitpicking –  F'x Feb 17 '11 at 11:27

"Uptight" or "Type A" (as in 'personality'.)

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  • fastidious
  • persnickity
  • choosy
  • finicky
  • difficult
  • particular

and I really liked

  • constipated (;
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I would say that 'control freak' is a pretty good synonym for anally-retentive.

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They can be related but I'm not sure that control-freakery equates to obsession over detail. Control-freaks often don't mind a mess as long as it's their mess. –  itsbruce Oct 6 '12 at 14:56

You can use perfectionism.
All the above have negative connotations and being anal retentive can be very positive especially in journalism, fact checking and mathematics.

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A few more options:

  • Obsessive
  • OCD
  • Diligent for a more positive spin. Something tells me this doesn't fit your context though.
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Less of a synonym than an allusion via an incorrect and overly literal interpretation of what anal-retentive means, but for a situation like the one you describe, you may get good mileage out of constipated.

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  • excessively fussy
  • excessively orderly
  • punctilious
  • finicky
  • persnickety
  • demanding
  • hard to please
  • picky
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protected by RegDwigнt Feb 8 '12 at 12:21

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