I’m trying to capture the following sense:

  • Primary meaning: hyper-attentive to detail
  • Secondary considerations:
    • no negative connotation indicating insincerity such as “pedantic”, “stilted”, or “bookish” (i.e., not obsessing over details in an ostentatious way)
    • it’s ok to imply that the person being labeled as this is a perfectionist, but not in a negative or excessive way (i.e, not “nitpicky,” “hairsplitting,” “anal”, “persnickety”, or “doctrinaire”)
    • this person cannot “shut it off” and stop being attentive to detail no matter how tired / if on vacation / wanting to “tune out”—s/he can’t help but notice minor details, even when s/he isn’t even trying to pay attention

Potential candidates (but let me know if these carry any negative connotation):

  • fastidious
  • meticulous

Example sentences (I’m no author; I’m just trying to give descriptive sentences with context, even at the expense of making run-ons):

  • The ____________ attorney immediately spotted numerous stylistic inconsistencies in the contract (as typical of documents with multiple authors), but thought it best only to voice his concern with a substantive grammatical error that resulted in a legally ambiguous clause.

  • She couldn’t help but notice his pallor, the tiny crumb on his shirt, a slight blue stain on his fingers, and the empty muffin wrapper in the adjacent garbage can. He never eats breakfast. His unusually-laconic reply to her question gave her pause. Now isn’t the time to ask him this, she thought to herself. Her ________ observations enabled her to deduce that she would fare better later on—after his blood sugar level increased.

  • 1
    My preference would be meticulous. (As you suggested.) May 2, 2019 at 4:07

3 Answers 3


It came to my mind as soon as I read the first line of your question.

If you go with meticulous, then there is another word which is very similar: assiduous.


astute might be the word you're looking for

Merriam Webster

having or showing shrewdness and an ability to notice and understand things clearly : mentally sharp or clever


What immediately came to mind was "focused."

"Able to direct great attention, interest, or activity towards a particular aim."

I find the word suggests a willful and non-threatening involvement.
It's a no-frills word with some character and implied integrity.


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