Also found in: Thesaurus, Wikipedia.


The making of unreasonably fine distinctions.

hair′split′ter n.
hair′split′ting adj.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.


the making of petty distinctions
occupied with or based on petty distinctions
ˈhairˌsplitter n
Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014


(ˈhɛərˌsplɪt ɪŋ)

1. the making of unnecessarily fine distinctions.
2. characterized by such distinctions; quibbling: hairsplitting arguments.
hair′split`ter, n.
Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.hairsplitting - making too fine distinctions of little importance; "they didn't take his hairsplitting seriously"
differentiation, distinction - a discrimination between things as different and distinct; "it is necessary to make a distinction between love and infatuation"
Adj.1.hairsplitting - developed in excessively fine detail; "finespun distinctions"
precise - sharply exact or accurate or delimited; "a precise mind"; "specified a precise amount"; "arrived at the precise moment"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.


1. adjpedante, cavilloso/a
2. npedanteria
Collins Italian Dictionary 1st Edition © HarperCollins Publishers 1995
References in periodicals archive ?
'Kumbaga masyado kayong nitpicking and hairsplitting. Lahat na lang,' he added.
Kumbaga masyado kayong nitpicking and hairsplitting lahat na lang," the Malacaaang mouthpiece said.
"Masyado kayong (You engage too much on) nitpicking and hairsplitting. Lahat na lang.
Wily semanticists, trained in medieval hairsplitting, will be recruited to circumvent the constitutional prohibition against such a system.
ONE cannot remember if during PTV's monopoly of the airwaves, there was as much hairsplitting over every gesture, facial twitch and gait as is witnessed today.
In response to the fellow attorney questioning and ultimately belittling the experiences of many female attorneys (yes, being called "Babe" is both unprofessional and demeaning), the slippery slope arguments and hairsplitting will not distract from the conversation.
The difference is about 100 to 150 fps, so it is not a hairsplitting exercise.
At least three major events of past few days can be cited: Finally the coming together of the BJP and Mehbooba Mufti's People's Democratic Party (PDP) to form a coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir; the controversy over the Pakistani Joint Investigation Team (JIT) getting access to the terror-hit Pathankot airbase and the hairsplitting over whether the Pakistani team is being given access to the frontline military base per se or whether it is being allowed access only to the crime scenes on the periphery of the base; and the imposition of president's rule in the small northern state of Uttarakhand.
When they knew that the incumbent president was firm and steadfast on this venture, they started another campaign, trying to find flaws and gaps in the to-be amendment and were very vociferous in their hairsplitting and presenting their objections and dissent, which were of insignificant importance.
That book is a hairsplitting study of the (im)possibility of the virtuous gift as distinct from the base quidpro-quo deal; Locher nimbly annotates the text with red squiggles and question marks and combines it with a visual counterpart: politically charged imagery from media archives that shows hands performing a variety of gestures.
USAIN BOLT was last night labelled an "active performance legend" by hairsplitting Olympics boss Jacques Rogge.
In all this legalistic hairsplitting, one thing was overlooked: the life of a mother.