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08 / 04 / 2010

FUSSY vs. PICKY: meaning and examples

Good morning.

Today, once again, we answer a question from one of our Daily Vitamin readers:

I would like to know the difference between 'Fussy' and 'Picky', with some examples. Thank you

Below I have included the definitions given by the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary.

Meaning of fussy: too worried about details or standards, especially unimportant ones.

Meaning of picky: liking only particular things and difficult to please.

These definitions indicate subtle differences between these words (too worried vs. overly particular), but basically these two adjectives are synonyms. They are both used to describe people who are difficult to please. Consider the following examples.

Example 1:
She is such a fussy/picky eater. She doesn't seem to like anything that we offer her.

Example 2:
Rachel: Where do you want to go for lunch?
Ivan: I'm not fussy/picky...wherever you want to go is fine with me.

These words are especially similar when referring to food preferences, such as the example above. However, they can also be used in different contexts:

Example 3:
Our teacher, Matthew, is very fussy/picky about punctuation.

Both of these words are negative. In other words, if you say someone is fussy or picky, you are not paying them a complement, you are criticizing them.

I hope that helps Xavier. If you are a fussy English student, then you may not be satisfied with my response. In that case, please post your comments (or complaints) by clicking on the "Add a Comment" button in the Daily Vitamin section on our website (

Remember that tomorrow we will send the Essential Weekly Vitamin for Spanish-speaking students of English.

Enjoy the rest of your day!

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