What does the word punctilious mean?

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Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: punctilious…

In a riveting novel, a young nun is sent by the Vatican to investigate allegations of misconduct at a Catholic school in Iceland.

Titled The Sacrament, the book is written by Olaf Olafsson, an Icelandic businessman and writer best known for his leadership in the creation of the PlayStation video game console.

In addition to giving me a terrific story, Olafsson also gave me my word of the week, punctilious. Here is how he used it:

I found it amusing how punctilious Páll could be.

I had the vague notion the word meant something like “pretentious.” I was almost right. In fact, it means showing great attention to detail or correct behaviour.

Use of the word dates back to the 1630s, and probably originates from the Italian puntiglioso, from puntiglio “fine point,” which in turn comes from the French pointille, also meaning “point.”

Use of the word started to decline in  1831 although started to revive again (albeit at a dramatically lower level) in 2003.

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