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I'm trying to think of a term which means that one expends extra effort or materials in making sure that something is done properly, to an almost excessive or extravagant extent.

One good is example is 'belt and braces'.

I'd like to think of equivalents which, similarly, don't have a negative connotation - equivalents which imply thoroughness.

'Overzealous', for example, has a similar meaning but implies negative excess.

It could be a word or phrase.

I'd like to use the word or phrase to describe an approach, i.e. 'I did it X way because it was sure to cover everything, a [word or phrase goes here] approach.'

So far, many of the suggestions have been negative in connotation:




These are all undesirable traits and therefore not what I was looking for. Meticulous is more what I was looking for, but is less suitable when talking about one specific act.

The context is something like:

'It was likely that the necessary part lay between 5-10, but we took all of 1-20 in order to make certain that we got it.'

That is a belt-and-braces approach.

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marked as duplicate by FumbleFingers single-word-requests Aug 25 '14 at 21:44

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

I'd suggest "meticulous". – Dan Bron Aug 24 '14 at 22:53
That could work, but normally I'd see meticulous as being used to describe an entire series of acts, and not one specific action, as I desire. – Charon Aug 24 '14 at 23:04
In engineering, we would call it over-designing. – Gary's Student Aug 24 '14 at 23:08
Persnickety or (Brit) pernickety. – Wayfaring Stranger Aug 24 '14 at 23:12
BTW, in U.S. English, those things that you use to hold up your pants that go over your shoulders are better known as suspenders. (Braces are things to straighten teeth.) – Scott Aug 25 '14 at 0:38

10 Answers 10

up vote 4 down vote accepted

How about assiduously?

Showing great care and perseverance

Oxford Dictionaries

According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, the word 'acquired a taint of "servility"' in the 18th century. I think it still retains a bit of this today, but perhaps it's been generalized a bit.

In any case, maybe this has the color you're looking for.

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Nice. I think that it might not be possible for me to find precisely what I'm looking for but this is one of the best yet. – Charon Aug 25 '14 at 3:00

Do you want an adjective (phrase), a noun (phrase), a verb (phrase), or an adverb (phrase)?

  • nitpick, nitpicky, nitpicker
  • perfectionist
  • meticulous, meticulously
  • punctilious, punctiliously
  • fastidious, fastidiously
  • exacting, exactingly
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I was looking for a way to describe an approach - 'a meticulous approach', for example - so an adjective, I suppose. – Charon Aug 24 '14 at 23:01
+1 for meticulous. – HalosGhost Aug 25 '14 at 2:16
+1 for exacting. :) – mskfisher Aug 25 '14 at 2:26

Why not scrupulous

(Of a person or process) diligent, thorough, and extremely attentive to details: the research has been carried out with scrupulous attention to detail

[Oxford Dictionary Online]

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This example sentence provided by the Department of Redundancy Department. – Ben Voigt Aug 25 '14 at 18:30
@BenVoigt I'm not a contributor to the ODO, I just play one on TV. – bib Aug 25 '14 at 18:53

How about fastidious?


1. excessively particular, critical, or demanding; hard to please: a fastidious eater.
2. requiring or characterized by excessive care or delicacy; painstaking.

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This is a good suggestion. Interestingly, I would not normally associate it with the negative connotations declared in the definitions that you quoted. – Charon Aug 25 '14 at 14:34

I would suggest exhaustive.

Including or considering all elements or aspects; fully comprehensive:

the guide outlines every bus route in exhaustive detail


including all possibilities : very thorough


Another word that comes to mind is scrutinize which is a verb.

to examine (something) carefully especially in a critical way


Examine or inspect closely and thoroughly


But you can also say:

...in a scrutinizing way

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Also consider anal. From en.wiktionary, it has a sense “(psychology) of a person, obsessed with neatness, accuracy, compulsiveness and stubbornness, supposedly from not having progressed beyond the anal stage. [eg] Please don't touch his furniture, as he can get very anal about things like that”.

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I suppose I am being quite anal. Seriously though, that has a very negative connotation. – Charon Aug 25 '14 at 0:00
I think this is a good way to express what the question asks for. – Arjun J Rao Aug 25 '14 at 5:00

Pedantic might fit.

pedantic adj. excessively concerned with minor details or rules; overscrupulous.

Sue was pedantic when it came to following the recipes. She made sure her measures were weighed to the gram, and that her cup measures were exactly level.

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Reference, please. – tchrist Aug 30 '14 at 21:25

Perhaps painstaking? As an adjective or noun, or can be used as an adverb.

John painstakingly put the model together.

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Are you looking for shotgun approach? Wiktionary defines it as:

(idiomatic) An approach in which the subject is indiscriminate and haphazard, using breadth, spread, or quantity in lieu of accuracy, planning, etc

While "indiscriminate" and "haphazard" can have negative connotations, this still seems like a perfect fit for your context.

"I did it X way because it was sure to cover everything, a shotgun approach."

(I would change it to "admittedly, a shotgun approach" which does admit the negative connotation, but gives you a good setup to explain it away.)

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Old-school is a term that took time for me to accept, but occasionally I use old-school to mean done properly.

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Welcome to ELU.SE. Please take a moment to find upvoted answers to see the type of answer this site is looking for. We also provide help on answering questions. Answers should ideally include some sort of independent corroboration, correctly referenced. – Andrew Leach Aug 25 '14 at 8:25

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