Scottish National Dictionary (1700–)

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PERNICKETIE, adj., adv., n. Also perni(c)kitie, -y, pir-, pick-, -ketty, -kittie, -kertie, pernikket(i) (Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928), 1914 Angus Gl.), perneekity (Sc. 1911 S.D.D.); perneckety; persnickety; pernackety; parnackity; pernigglety (Kcb. 1900); prignickitie (Rxb. 1825 Jam.); pirnickerie (s.Sc. 1825 Jam.); pernicky; and quasi-ppl. forms pernicked, pernicket(t) (Rxb. 1942 Zai).

I. adj. 1. Of persons and their actions, etc.: (1) extremely fastidious, very precise, obsessed by detail, fussy, niggling, over-scrupulous (Sc. 1808 Jam.; Sh. 1908 Jak. (1928)). Gen.Sc., now entering St. Eng. Noun derivs. pernickertyism, ¶pick-, pernickittiness, fussiness, fastidiousness, niggling attention to detail. Cf. Perjink. Sc. 1826 Wilson Noctes Amb. (1863) I. 217:
I maun confess that I like the Englishers, if they wadna be sae pernicketty about what they eat.
Rnf. 1828 Paisley Mag. 92:
The other derides such regularity, and accuses his orderly neighbour with being very pernickity.
Per. 1857 J. Stewart Sketches 114:
Behold, wi' white neck on his coatie, Pirnicky, tidy, Obliging, civil, Jamie Scottie.
Abd. 1868 G. Macdonald R. Falconer xiii.:
But Robert wadna like me to tak siller whaur I did nae wark for 't. . . . He's some pernickety, Robert.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 279:
Nane o' yer prim, preceese, straicht-up, soorick-moo'd picknickertyism kin' o' genteelity for me.
Lnk. 1889 A. G. Murdoch Readings I. 15:
If it tastes hauf as weel as it smells, the pirnickiest mooth'll ha'e naething to fin' faut wi'.
Sc. 1900 Spectator (15 Dec.) 877:
It behoves every Minister to be careful to the point of fastidiousness, or, if you will, pernickittiness.
wm.Sc. 1934 T. Smellie Tea-Pairty 10:
They're maybe kinna nerra and contractit aboot things, and whiles a bit pernickety.
Abd. 1956 People's Jnl. (8 Dec.) 13:
Naebody seems tae hae the same pride in their wark an' naebody bathers aboot bein' pernickity.

(2) “prickly”, cantankerous, touchy, curmudgeonly, bad-tempered (Abd., Kcb., Uls. 1920); ill-natured, testy, hard-to-please (Sh. a.1838 Jam. MSS. XII. 170, parnackitie, 1914 Angus Gl., Sh. 1965). Dmf. 1814 Early Life Carlyle (Froude 1896) I. 31:
A scurrilous, blackguarding, flattering, vexing, pernicked, humorous, witty, daft letter it is.
Ayr. 1822 Galt Provost xxxi.:
I never saw any mortal man look as that pernicketty personage, the bailie, did at this joke.
Sc. 1827 C. I. Johnstone Eliz. de Bruce I. iii.:
[He] acquired the not less significant, and more appropriate title of Auld Pernickitie.
Fif. 1898 S. Tytler Mrs Carmichael's Goddesses xviii.:
You cannot believe that I lifted my hand to a purse-proud pirnickitie auld cadger like auld Powrie.
Sc. 1926 L. Moon Drumorty 48:
You're a persnickety old maid, there's no' a romantic hair on yer head.

2. Of things: requiring close attention or great care, fiddling, ticklish, intricate, troublesome (s.Sc. 1825 Jam., pirnickerie). Gen.Sc.; carried out in a niggling and mean-spirited manner. Bnff. 1880 J. F. S. Gordon Chron. Keith 69:
In future life these pernickitie minutiae were set at nought and exploded.
Sc. 1965:
It's pernickety work, compiling a dictionary.

II. adv. In a fussy and punctilious way, painstakingly. Lnk. 1889 A. G. Murdoch Readings I. 37:
Ye're no to be perneckety modest, an' set up an affronted refusal.
Cai. 1896 J. Horne Canny Countryside 210:
His hair . . . wis drookit wi' hair-ile an' combed most pernicked.

III. n. A detail, trifle, over-refinement, punctilio. Ayr. 1822 Galt Sir A. Wylie xcii.:
Surely we're no to stand on such pernicketies wi' the like o' Martha Docken and her oye.
Mry. 1873 J. Brown Round Table Club 112:
There's nae eese for ony o' yer niceties or pick-nickerties here, comfort's afore ceremonie.

[Orig. uncertain. In form Per-, intensive pref., + a deriv. of Nick, but phs. due to some conflation of finicky, finical, + particular, with influence from ppl. forms.]

Pernicketie adj., adv., n.

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"Pernicketie adj., adv., n.". Dictionary of the Scots Language. 2004. Scottish Language Dictionaries Ltd. Accessed 27 Sep 2021 <https://www.dsl.ac.uk/entry/snd/pernicketie>

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