In the sentence:

In case you learned the language, you may be interested in these finicky details, as they often go unnoticed by the untrained or inattentive eye.

Consider we're talking about fine-grained detail about a language, which may escape a less experienced person's grasp (like the connotation of finicky does to me, as a non-native speaker).

Now, consider as well that the detail - despite seemingly trivial - might be or become interesting to look into, although it is often ignored. E.g, dialectal word usage specific to your town, that a foreigner will pick a 100% in its normal sense.

Also take into account that my question comes from the apparently disparate connotations I found in the dictionaries. See:

Oxford Learner's Dictionary

  1. ​(disapproving) too worried about what you eat, wear, etc.; disliking many things
  2. needing great care and attention to detail


  1. extremely or excessively particular, exacting, or meticulous in taste or standards

My teacher is finicky about spelling.

  1. requiring much care, precision, or attentive effort

a finicky recipe

[disapproval] Even the most finicky eater will find something appetizing here.

So it appears to me that there are a neutral and a disapproving connotation.

I also found the similar fussy, fastidious, exacting and to a lesser extent dainty, among others. All had definitions that seemed to imply an actor rather than an object, mostly with a disapproving connotation.

In my phrase, I am concerned whether 'finicky' doesn't feel neutral. I'm also interested in alternatives that fit this context.


  • I’d probably choose subtle instead.
    – Jim
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 5:31
  • @Jim Yeah, subtle fits. I'm looking for possible alternatives, though. There's no precise reason for that, just curiosity.
    – Otter
    Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 5:36
  • 2
    You can say 'finicky' about yourself to be self-effacing, as it's not neutral. Finicky detail that is not negative is fine detail. If there's a detail that is important, you are not being finicky to note that detail. Commented Feb 7, 2021 at 6:16
  • @KannE thanks for noticing that, I hadn't seen it.
    – Otter
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 3:29
  • 2
    Certainly the term is used to refer to situations where attention to detail is required. It's sort of metaphorical, though, and definitely informal.
    – Hot Licks
    Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 3:39

1 Answer 1


For the average reader, Tiny details

For the advanced reader, the way you have it sort of works. finicky However, I prefer your own suggestion better; Fine-Grained Details

  • Can you include in your answer whether the word finicky is neutral? Terms like "sort of" and "I prefer" indicate opinion. Opinions posted as answers get pushback on this site. Commented Feb 9, 2021 at 15:24

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