To nitpick means to complain or criticize something or someone over insignificant details. Nitpick is a verb, related words are nitpicks, nitpicked, nitpicking, nitpicker, nitpicky. Nitpick is occasionally found hyphenated, as in nit-pick, but the hyphenated form is found less and less. Surprisingly, nitpick is a relatively recent word, first used in the 1960s.
It is a back-formation from nitpicking, first used in the 1950s. Nitpick seems to refer to the tiresome job of picking lice nits from hair, wigs or clothes. Lice nits are the eggs of the insect pest, the louse.
Examples of Nitpick in a Sentence
For as good as Cerrone (24-6) has been in 2014 (and he has been very, very good), you could nitpick the fact that he’s still getting hit early in fights. [ESPN]
Disregarding their beloved heroes’ advice that life is very short and there’s no time for fussing and fighting, the Beatlemaniacs inevitably and incessantly nitpick. [London Free Press]
“I can’t describe how thrilled and honoured I am to be taking over from the brilliant Craig Ferguson,” said Corden. “To be asked to host such a prestigious show on America’s #1 network is hugely exciting. I can’t wait to get started, and will do my very best to make a show America will enjoy.” [P.S. Note to James: We spell it “honor” over here … just a little nitpick.] [Newsday]
On the road, however, a lot of this nit-picking is forgotten as the car gets up to speed and slides along pretty quietly. [Seattle Pi]
Maybe we’re nit-picking here, but if the festival runs 11 days, its centerpiece film ought to run smack in its center—n’est-ce pas?—meaning Oct. 7, five days after the carpets unfurl and five days before the curtain drops. [Pacific Sun]
Clark agrees with the Consumer Reports statement on nit-picking. “There’s no question that it can be effective, it’s just very time consuming.” There’s also professional salons for lice treatment, he adds. [CBC]