Recently I have been watching What's my car worth?
One person said several times, "I like to pick nits.", as in being a nitpicker.
Do you use or have ever heard "pick nits"? It is used?
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Nitpick, nit-pick, and pick nits are all attested (Thesaurus.com). Literally it is the removal of the eggs of lice from the hair. Because the eggs are very small, this is a painstaking procedure.
Apparently the noun form nit-picker recently came to mean a person who attacks trivialities, and after that the verb form got its figurative sense (World Wide Words).
I think to the extent that Brits say it at all, it’s just a facetious reversal of metaphoric nitpick (occasionally hyphenated), which is really the only “standard” British version.
To me as a Brit, it’s a bit like saying, for example, “my flabber has never been so ghasted”.
But it seems quite a few Americans (although still a minority) say it. I guess it’s unlikely they’re all doing it facetiously.
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