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Example Sentences

The Tory revolutionary was so punctilious and respectful of her monarch it was almost embarrassing.

Denis Thatcher got on well with the Queen Mother, enjoyed a drink as much as she did, and was punctilious about royal protocol.

The little boy of two, often quoted here, showed a punctilious feeling for order in the placing of things.

Never lacking natural dignity, he was not punctilious in mere matters of form.

As the representative of his father-in-law, Haggard asked his lordship with punctilious hospitality if he would take another peg.

Fletcher's whole soul was possessed by a sore, jealous, punctilious patriotism.

He was a servant and a lackey, and the punctilious gentlemen opposed to him were not inclined to cross swords with him.


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Frequently Asked Questions

What is another word for punctilious?

People described as punctilious do things (or require things to be done) exactly according to the rules or in a particular or traditional way—the one they consider proper.

Such people may be described as strict, rigid, inflexible, or fussy. Strict implies close adherence to rules. Rigid and inflexible imply that a person isn’t willing to change the way they do things. Fussy is a more negative way of saying someone is particular—that they want things done in an exact way.

All of these words are less formal than punctilious. An even less formal but more negative term is persnickety, which can suggest that someone is annoyingly particular, often in a way that’s snobby. A more formal synonym that can mean just about the same thing is scrupulous, but scrupulous is more commonly used to mean principled or devoted to doing what is right.


Is punctilious a bad word?

Punctilious isn’t necessarily negative in itself—it really depends on how you feel about punctiliousness. Describing someone as punctilious could even be intended as a compliment. But more often than not, it’s intended to imply that a person’s strictness and attention to rules is excessive (and irritating). For this reason, punctilious is sometimes used as kind of a polite way of saying something that’s usually negative.

Is it better to be punctual or punctilious?

A punctilious person might insist on being punctual—and especially on other people being punctual—but the two words mean different things. Punctual is much more narrow—it means to be on time, which is generally viewed as a good thing. And the word itself is typically used in a positive or neutral way. Being punctilious, on the other hand, is often viewed unfavorably. A punctilious person might answer that it’s better to be punctilious, since that probably includes being punctual. But, in general, it’s probably better to be described as punctual than it is to be called punctilious, since punctual is never used negatively.

What is an antonym (opposite) of punctilious?

Punctilious has a direct opposite, unpunctilious, which simply means not punctilious. It often implies that the person it’s describing should be a little more punctilious.

There aren’t many single words that exactly capture what it means to be the opposite of punctilious, but such a person could be described as easy-going, open-minded, or flexible.

How do you use punctilious in a sentence?

Punctilious is quite a formal word, and can be used to describe someone who is themselves quite formal, or at least strict about formalities. It’s not always an insult, but it’s often used negatively.

Here are some examples of punctilious in a sentence:

  • My mother is so punctilious about the state of the house that it seems like she’s expecting the Queen of England to show up!
  • Try not to be so punctilious about the rules—it’s just supposed to be a fun game night.
  • It’s a good thing I’ve been punctilious about my homework, because my teacher is a real stickler!

On this page you'll find 79 synonyms, antonyms, and words related to punctilious, such as: ceremonious, conscientious, conscionable, conventional, exact, and formal.

From Roget's 21st Century Thesaurus, Third Edition Copyright © 2013 by the Philip Lief Group.