November 4th, 2010

words are sexy


hypersnickety (HEYE-per-sni-keh-tee) - adj., excessively over-particular.

A colorful nonce-word coined from persnickety (over-particular) by replacing the per- with hyper- to crank the fussiness up to eleven. Persnickety is an alteration of Scottish pernickety, of unknown origin, but note that in Scottish dialects per- is often an "expressive prefix," as one dictionary puts it, or in other words an intensifier. I'm finding no instance of hypersnickety being used in the wild (except those traceable to the Worthless Word of the Day, where I found this) outside of a 2005 essay by Daniel Dennet, so it's possible he coined it. Clearly, it needs more love. For usage, I'll quote Dennett's:

Richard Dawkins is just as leery of idle armchair speculation and hypersnickety logic-chopping as any hard-bitten chemist or microbiologist