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A stickler for X is someone who is intransigent about X, but this does not by itself imply the kind of pusillanimous literality that you suggest. It suggests courage to uphold a higher standard in something than most people do, even, or especially, in situations not explicitly covered by rules or authority. Whether that's irrational depends on what the stickler is a stickler for. For example, a stickler for journalistic integrity (see this) maintains high standards of journalistic integrity where many journalists would cheat or compromise, while a stickler for form insists on observing rules or formalities even when reasonable people would normally bendbend or skip them. A stickler for rules (note the lack of an article) is dogmatic about following rules even in situations where their purpose isn't served, simply because they're "rules". A stickler for the rules suggests a person who insists on following the rules of a specific type of activity; that might be admirable or narrow-minded, depending on the rules and the situation.

A stickler for X is someone who is intransigent about X, but this does not by itself imply the kind of pusillanimous literality that you suggest. It suggests courage to uphold a higher standard in something than most people do, even, or especially, in situations not explicitly covered by rules or authority. Whether that's irrational depends on what the stickler is a stickler for. For example, a stickler for journalistic integrity (see this) maintains high standards of journalistic integrity where many journalists would cheat or compromise, while a stickler for form insists on observing rules or formalities even when reasonable people would normally bend or skip them. A stickler for rules (note the lack of an article) is dogmatic about following rules even in situations where their purpose isn't served, simply because they're "rules". A stickler for the rules suggests a person who insists on following the rules of a specific type of activity; that might be admirable or narrow-minded, depending on the rules and the situation.

A stickler for X is someone who is intransigent about X, but this does not by itself imply the kind of pusillanimous literality that you suggest. It suggests courage to uphold a higher standard in something than most people do, even, or especially, in situations not explicitly covered by rules or authority. Whether that's irrational depends on what the stickler is a stickler for. For example, a stickler for journalistic integrity (see this) maintains high standards of journalistic integrity where many journalists would cheat or compromise, while a stickler for form insists on observing rules or formalities even when reasonable people would normally bend or skip them. A stickler for rules (note the lack of an article) is dogmatic about following rules even in situations where their purpose isn't served, simply because they're "rules". A stickler for the rules suggests a person who insists on following the rules of a specific type of activity; that might be admirable or narrow-minded, depending on the rules and the situation.

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I've said "civil servants of science" to a couple friends and the meaning has been clear, but it's better suited to the UK than the US, and it requires an "of" to indicate that you want to extend the phrase beyond its normal meaninga specific domain of application. If you just call someone a civil servant or bureaucrat, that suggests what you want, but it focuses on their occupation, not their mentality. Also, I think it's unkind to the people who perform those jobs in good faith and with common sense. People who do those jobs create stability that is extremely valuable and seldom appreciated. The overzealous application of rules should be distinguished from jobs that inherently involve rules.

I've said "civil servants of science" to a couple friends and the meaning has been clear, but it's better suited to the UK than the US, and it requires an "of" to indicate that you want to extend the phrase beyond its normal meaning. If you just call someone a civil servant or bureaucrat, that suggests what you want, but it focuses on their occupation, not their mentality. Also, I think it's unkind to the people who perform those jobs in good faith and with common sense. People who do those jobs create stability that is extremely valuable and seldom appreciated. The overzealous application of rules should be distinguished from jobs that inherently involve rules.

I've said "civil servants of science" to a couple friends and the meaning has been clear, but it's better suited to the UK than the US, and it requires an "of" to indicate a specific domain of application. If you just call someone a civil servant or bureaucrat, that suggests what you want, but it focuses on their occupation, not their mentality. Also, I think it's unkind to the people who perform those jobs in good faith and with common sense. People who do those jobs create stability that is extremely valuable and seldom appreciated. The overzealous application of rules should be distinguished from jobs that inherently involve rules.

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A survey of terms that are almost but not quite right
Including an explanation of what’s wrong with each one of them

I can't think of a good noun for the kind of person you're talking about, despite having been fascinated by this particular kind of irrationality for yearsyears.

I can't think of a good noun for the kind of person you're talking about, despite having been fascinated by this particular kind of irrationality for years.

A survey of terms that are almost but not quite right
Including an explanation of what’s wrong with each one of them

I can't think of a good noun for the kind of person you're talking about, despite having been fascinated by this particular kind of irrationality for years.

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