split hairs


Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus, Medical, Legal, Financial, Encyclopedia.

split hairs

Fig. to quibble; to try to make petty distinctions. They don't have any serious differences. They are just splitting hairs. Don't waste time splitting hairs. Accept it the way it is.
See also: hair, split

split hairs

Make trivial distinctions, quibble, as in Let's not split hairs about whose turn it is; I'll close up today and you do it tomorrow. This metaphoric idiom transfers dividing so fine an object as a single hair to other petty divisions. [Second half of 1600s]
See also: hair, split

split hairs

If someone splits hairs, they argue about very small details or find very small differences between things which are really very similar. More than half the cases they complained about were not, in fact, on Garzon's list, but let's not split hairs. Don't split hairs. You know what I'm getting at. Note: You can also accuse someone of hair-splitting. We were becoming impatient with hair-splitting over legal technicalities.
See also: hair, split

split hairs

make small and overfine distinctions.
This expression was first recorded in the late 17th century. Split straws, dating from the 19th century, is a less common version.
See also: hair, split

split ˈhairs

(disapproving) pay too much attention in an argument to differences that are very small and not important: You might think I’m just splitting hairs, but what exactly do you mean by ‘a significant improvement’? ▶ ˈhair-splitting noun
See also: hair, split

split hairs

To see or make trivial distinctions; quibble.
See also: hair, split
References in periodicals archive ?
So good that to differentiate their prospects for success is to split hairs.
Its proponents split hairs while Alison seeks only to ease her daughter's path in life.
Admittedly Choi Kwang-Do is different from karate and Master Choi is only 62 but let's not split hairs.
We can equivocate, split hairs and rationalize as much as we want, but the simple fact is that the average American wants an independent counsel.
It isn't the first time the couple have split hairs over Princess.
But Macdonald isn't a law breaker unless you split hairs by taking into account some of his harem were under-age.
The opposing sides in the Northern Ireland Assembly may split hairs over the wording of the Good Friday agreement and whether it justifies barring Sinn Fein's Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness from becoming Ministers in the new Northern Ireland Cabinet.
And when she asked about pay and holiday entitlement, she claimed she was told: "Don't split hairs.