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Alternative forms[edit]


From pains +‎ taking; see take pains. The /ˈpeɪnˌsteɪkɪŋ/ pronunciation which dominates in the United States suggests a reanalysis of the word as pain +‎ staking.


  • (US) IPA(key): /ˈpeɪnˌsteɪkɪŋ/, /ˈpeɪnzˌteɪkɪŋ/
  • (UK) IPA(key): /ˈpeɪnzˌteɪkɪŋ/


painstaking (comparative more painstaking, superlative most painstaking)

  1. Carefully attentive to details; diligent in performing a process or procedure.
    • 1781, James Harris, Philological Inquiries:
      All these painstaking men, considered together, may be said to have completed another species of criticism.
    • 1979 August, Michael Harris, “A line for all reasons: the North Yorkshire Moors Railway”, in Railway World, page 415:
      It is hoped to feature the historic vehicles to be found on the line in a future article, so that full justice may be done to the painstaking work of renovation on many of them, such as the North Eastern Railway Coach Group's NER autocoach No 3453.


Derived terms[edit]



painstaking (countable and uncountable, plural painstakings)

  1. The application of careful and attentive effort.
    • 1603, Michel de Montaigne, chapter 10, in John Florio, transl., The Essayes [], book II, London: [] Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], →OCLC:
      I esteeme Bocace his Decameron, Rabelais, and the kisses of John the second (if they may be placed under this title) worth the paines-taking to reade them.
    • c. 1836, Thomas Chalmers, Lectures on the Romans:
      It is not by a flight of imagination that you gain the ascents of spiritual experience. It is by the toils and the watchings and the painstakings of a solid obedience.
    • 1852, Nathaniel Langdon Frothingham, “Sermon VI”, in Sermons in the Order of a Twelvemonth:
      Behold what an abundant recompense attends the small processes of the earth, with the help of a little warm air; and what wealthy returns the industry of the husbandman and the florist is preparing from a few seeds and painstakings.