from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Overrefinement, as in language, taste, or style.
  • noun An instance of overrefinement.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun The character of being precious in sense 6 or 7. See precious, 6.
  • noun Costliness; value; great worth; preciousness.
  • noun Anything of great price or value.
  • noun The quality of being overnice; fastidiousness; excessive refinement.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • noun obsolete Preciousness; something precious.
  • noun Fastidious refinement, esp. in language; specif., the affected purism and sententiousness characteristic of the French précieuses of the 17th century.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun A state or condition of overemphasizing detail, especially of pronunciation when speaking.
  • noun obsolete Something precious.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • noun the quality of being fastidious or excessively refined


from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

[Middle English preciousite, preciousness, from Old French preciosite, from Latin pretiōsitās, from pretiōsus, precious, from pretium, price; see precious.]


  • It is in the salon that the over-refinement called preciosity budded and bloomed.

    The Catholic Encyclopedia, Volume 6: Fathers of the Church-Gregory XI

  • Although he is increasingly reviled these days for his purported stylistic preciosity, John Updike remains a writer I am able to read with pleasure because he successfully avoids inflicting such damage.

    Point of View in Fiction

  • Paglia (correctly) emphasizes the way in which English is constantly changing -- which makes it an ever-renewable source of new kinds of writing -- but she ought to consider this when elevating the Romantic poets '"living speech" over "dense allusiveness and preciosity."


  • A tiny pale print of a horse and coach in the rain 1899-1900 epitomizes the preciosity of his photo-secession phase.

    From the Shadows of Giants

  • Any poetry removed from popular diction will inevitably become as esoteric as 18th-century satire (perfected by Alexander Pope), whose dense allusiveness and preciosity drove the early Romantic poets into the countryside to find living speech again.


  • But any preciosity is overruled by the film's emotional intelligence, as when George inhales the smell of a stranger's Jack Russell that evokes the dogs he owned with his lover.

    Erica Abeel: The Beautiful and the Buzzed

  • Huxley and Fisher were great naturalists and understandably allergic to preciosity.

    A Year on the Wing

  • We shouldn't be making up ways to accommodate their religious preciosity.

    On Thursday, the Legg report will be published along with...

  • For all the preciosity of its product, the perfume industry generates annual revenues of $31 billion; 170,000 bottles of perfume are sold every day in France -- and 170,000 Frenchmen can't be wrong.

    Sniffing Out the Next Big Fragrance

  • It is hard to avoid preciosity in books about books, but here Funke pulls off the feat with vigor ....

    Inkheart: Summary and book reviews of Inkheart by Cornelia Funke.


Log in or sign up to get involved in the conversation. It's quick and easy.