9

Looking for a word that describes "Paying attention to the smallest details, though they might not matter".

Starts with the letter "P"

5
  • Perfectionistic?
    – GMB
    Jul 20, 2014 at 14:37
  • 2
    If a word starting with M is acceptable too, try meticulous. Jul 20, 2014 at 15:27
  • 1
    I think you’re too picky about the “starts with the letter p” bit. The most obvious answer is attentive.
    – tchrist
    Jul 20, 2014 at 16:16
  • 5
    Are you doing a crossword or why does it need to start with a P?
    – Em1
    Jul 21, 2014 at 11:37
  • @Em1 maybe alliteration?
    – Golden Cuy
    Nov 26, 2014 at 8:13

11 Answers 11

15

persnickety: giving a lot of attention to details that are minor or not important

6
  • @coneslayer...That's a word I didn't know...learning somethng new everyday :) I'm adopting it for use in the office...
    – marantou
    Jul 20, 2014 at 13:47
  • 10
    In British English this is pernickety Jul 20, 2014 at 17:55
  • 1
    In both American and British English it is an odd and dated word.
    – user39425
    Jul 21, 2014 at 23:24
  • 1
    @fredsbend Hardly. It depends whom you’re dating.
    – tchrist
    Jul 22, 2014 at 1:21
  • @fredsbend: Hmm. Google Define loves it, showing it steadily climbing up the usage curve over the past few decades. (google.com/search?q=persnickety+define)
    – Sz.
    Apr 8, 2016 at 10:05
35

Pedantic is the first word that comes to mind.

According to Oxford Dictionaries, pedantic is someone who is:

Excessively concerned with minor details or rules, overscrupulous.

Some synonyms beginning with a "P" : perfectionist, punctilious, precisionist.

1
  • Does that mean that the excessive concern being put is unnecessary? Or, can it be necessary also?
    – asn
    May 7, 2019 at 7:45
9

I think that the "p" word you might want is punctilious.

Punctilious (comparative more punctilious, superlative most punctilious)

  1. Strictly attentive to detail; meticulous or fastidious, particularly to codes or conventions.

    With a punctilious slap of the gloves, the duel was now inevitable.

  2. Precise or scrupulous; finicky or nitpicky.

source

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  • 1
    It would be helpful to include a dictionary definition so people unfamiliar with the word don't have to google it too see how closely it fits. Jul 20, 2014 at 18:45
  • @MartinSmith: OK, fixed.
    – Tom Au
    Jul 20, 2014 at 18:52
5

Consider pettifogging, present participle of pettifog, which per wiktionary is to quibble and nitpick over trivial details. A pettifogger is “Someone who quibbles over trivia, and raises petty, annoying objections”.

1
  • Pettyfrogging is the business of busybodies.
    – user39425
    Jul 21, 2014 at 23:26
5

Precisian, OED sense 2:

A person who is rigidly precise or punctilious in the observance of rules or forms; a purist, a stickler, a pedant.

Precise, OED sense 3.a:

Strict in the observance of rule, usage, etc.; formal, correct; scrupulous, particular; (occas.) overly formal, fastidious. Also: (of a practice or rule) strictly observed.

4

Punctilious would be my answer if it had to begin with p, and was the one that first came to mind. However, I think that meticulous is a word that better matches the question.

Meticulous is a positive word. Per(s)nickety implies being difficult to please more than it does attention to detail, and is also a negative word.

2

I would add picky:

  • exacting especially about details.

  • excessively meticulous; fussy.

Source: http://www.thefreedictionary.com

2

I often use the word particular to describe someone who is meticulous or fastidious.

  1. : of, relating to, or being a single person or thing
  2. obsolete : partial
  3. : of, relating to, or concerned with details
  4. a : distinctive among other examples or cases of the same general category : notably unusual
    b : being one unit or element among others
  5. a : denoting an individual member or subclass in logic
    b : affirming or denying a predicate to a part of the subject —used of a proposition in logic <“some men are wise” is a particular affirmative>
  6. a : concerned over or attentive to details : meticulous
    b : nice in taste : fastidious
    c : hard to please : exacting

This word has the advantage of being much more common over the others mentioned here. I would prefer this to all the others already listed.

1

"Pedantic" often applies to someone who takes "correctness" to an extreme level, including paying attention to details that don't matter in the grand scheme.

Edit: Didn't notice that this was previously mentioned so I've improved with a link:

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/pedant

2
  • Welcome to ELU.SE. Please do read through other answers when adding one. This doesn't add anything to a previous answer.
    – Andrew Leach
    Jul 21, 2014 at 15:32
  • i just learned something about myself with your answer. thanks! Aug 18, 2015 at 0:16
1

You may be looking for painstaking. By itself it doesn't mean "attention to detail", but it is often combined with it to intensify: painstaking attention to detail.

0

The word that came to mind for me was "picayune" which as an adjective means worthless or useless. So in context the following would answer the OP's question:

"I don't like to ask Sam to review my designs because he points out picayune grammatical mistakes while missing important conceptual errors."

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