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See also: Stickler



From Middle English stighteler, stytelere, equivalent to stickle +‎ -er. The judges at Cornish wrestling matches do indeed carry sticks which serve for signalling and as a badge of their office. This practice has evolved from holding swords and then swordsticks.



stickler (plural sticklers)

  1. (now only Cornwall) A referee or adjudicator at a fight, wrestling match, duel, etc. who ensures fair play. [from 16th c.]
    • 1603, John Florio, transl.; Michel de Montaigne, chapter 27, in The Essayes, [], book II, printed at London: By Val[entine] Simmes for Edward Blount [], OCLC 946730821:
      In ancient time they were wont to employ third persons as sticklers, to see no treachery or disorder were used, and to beare witnes of the combates successe.
    • Sir Philip Sidney
      Basilius, the judge, appointed sticklers and trumpets whom the others should obey.
    • Dryden
      Our former chiefs, like sticklers of the war, / First sought to inflame the parties, then to poise.
  2. Someone who insistently advocates for something. [from 17th c.]
    Synonyms: dogmatist, formalist, pedant, traditionalist
    Lexicographers are sticklers for correct language.
    • Jonathan Swift
      The Tory or High-church were the greatest sticklers against the exorbitant proceedings of King James II.

Related terms[edit]