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Senior Member
USA, English
I came across pernickety in another thread. At first I thought is was a misspelling of persnickety, but not so.

These are considered synonyms.

I've never heard pernickety in the USA. Is it primarily used in BE?

NOTE: My spell checker flags pernickety as a misspelling.
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    I'm familiar with pernickety, Pack ~ it's fairly common in BE. Persnickety, however, looks very odd, almost as though someone sneezed in the middle of saying pernickety.


    Senior Member
    English (England)
    I believe I may well be the one that used this;). I haven't heard "persnickety" over here (although I have heard it from Americans) - and you may be interested to know that my BE spell-checker doesn't recognise "persnickety"!

    Edit - oh it doesn't recognise "pernickety" either, so I suppose that doesn't prove anything!:D


    Senior Member
    English English
    Well, if it's any consolation (to anyone), I used to think the word was fernickety ~ a kind of 'extended version' of finicky


    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I was certain we'd been through this before, but apparently not :)

    OED lists pernickety from 1808, persnickety as a US variant from 1892.
    Nothing (sorry ewie) on fernickety.


    Senior Member
    U.K. English
    OED lists both pernickety (BE) and persnickety (AE). I, like several others, had never come across the term used on the other side of the pond.


    post mod (English Only / Latin)
    English - US
    The OED doesn't know everything. I found this in 'Google books": it's the earliest of three citations of the word.

    The Thousand Deaths of Mr. Small, by Gerald Kersh - 1950.
    ... a fernickety toilet, and little money to spare for fripperies— perfumes, toilet
    waters, soaps, dressing cases, towels, sponges, all that kind of thing, ... (p. 142)​

    Gerald Kersh (1911-1968) was a British writer, as you may know. I didn't.
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