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I've been having trouble with a word that I forgot.

It means "small details", an example of this word would be during an argument and the person is looking at these small niche details of an argument, and then you say:

that's [forgotten word], like you're focusing on the [forgotten word].

Sorry if this is a poor explanation, but I've tried looking at synonyms, more specifically unimportant and obviously synonyms for small niche details, but nothing comes out of it.

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3 Answers 3

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There are actually a lot of words that fit your explanation! Although the correct one or the one that you're looking for may depend on the context, and they're all various parts of speech.

The best one, I think, would be:

minutiae, noun: precise details; small or trifling matters (Dictionary.com)

"you've forgotten the big picture- you're just focusing on the minutiae"

Another possibility is:

trivial, adj.: of little worth or importance (Merriam Webster)

For your word, it would be the plural version, trivialities.

There are also some verbs you could use as well. One thing that my mother (all too much, in my opinion), used to accuse me of was nitpicking. It's rather informal, and not quite the perfect word for your situation, but:

nitpicking, verb: giving too much attention to details that are not important, especially as a way of criticizing (Cambridge)

Another verb, with a similar meaning, would be

pettifogging, verb: placing undue emphasis on petty details; petty or trivial (Oxford Languages)

Another way to put it is to tell your opponent that they are engaging in pedantry, or focusing on the pedantic details,

pedantry, noun: slavish attention to rules, details (Dictionary.com)

And finally, of details,

petty, adj.: having little or no importance or significance (Merriam Webster)

As I was writing this, other people answered, so there may be some that overlap.

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Based on your example sentence, the following word seems appropriate:

technicality, noun:
something technical, especially a detail meaningful only to a specialist (Merriam Webster)

As in:

That's a technicality, you're focusing on a technicality.

As an example, imagine an argument between Person A and Person B. Person A makes a point, using an example of an incident which is relevant to the subject of the argument. When describing the incident, they mentioned that it occurred at 8pm. Rather than responding with a counterpoint, Person B notes that the incident in fact occurred at 7pm.

While Person B is technically correct, the time the incident occurred has no bearing on the validity of Person A's point. In this case, Person B would be focusing on a technicality, and Person A might respond with the sentence above.

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A quibble can be used to mean potential quibble, informally. Otherwise, "niggling detail" questions about definitions\details aren't really technically quibbles to me, unless the question's been answered and sparked a disagreeing response (the action v. "quibble", to me, requires clear indication that it's not just a clarification request. (I hate it when people assume\accuse me of quibbling because I ask a question to double-check my 7nderstanding. Some people like Autistic-spectrum people or ADHD-I's (or "AI"'s) are still learning and honestly ask clarifying questions a lot.)

Did any of the answers spark anamnesis? I'm betting on @user770884's "Technicality".

Do you remember the specific topic of the main discussion or of the interlocutor's' divagation-bait-like quibbling-detail? Or was the example made up?

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