Definition of stickler in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈstik(ə)lər/


1A person who insists on a certain quality or type of behavior: a stickler for accuracy a stickler when it comes to timekeeping
More example sentences
  • Fluent in five languages, highly informed and a stickler for precise dates and details, she is equally at ease mothering me with biscuits, stuffing plant cuttings into my hands or scolding me for my dismal grasp of the Czech language.
  • He told a story involving a commanding officer who was a stickler for precision, and whose great aim was to see the trombone players of the band with their elbows at the same angle.
  • He was also, however, a stickler for truth and accuracy, and this might have led to his death.
perfectionist, pedant, nitpicker, purist, diehard, hard-liner, fanatic
2A difficult problem; a conundrum.


Mid 16th century (in the sense 'umpire'): from obsolete stickle 'be umpire', alteration of obsolete stightle 'to control', frequentative of Old English stiht(i)an 'set in order'.

  • A stickler is a person who insists on a certain quality or type of behaviour. The first recorded sense, in the 1530s, was ‘referee or umpire’, and the word was based on the now obsolete term stickle, meaning ‘to be an umpire’: ‘There had been blood-shed, if I had not stickled’, wrote the English dramatist William Cartwright in 1643.

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: stick·ler

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