According to Wiktionary, the meaning of the adjective 'painstaking' is 'carefully attentive to detail'. However, I am having difficulty comprehending what exactly this means.

Consider, as an example, the below sentence, taken from the Webster dictionary site.

She was always painstaking about her work.

What might this entail? For instance, if she were a researcher, how could she be 'carefully attentive to detail'? My mind is blank.

  • 2
    Do you understand what 'careful', 'attentive', and 'detail' mean? Have you looked for them in any dictionaries? Jun 2, 2022 at 20:31
  • 1
    That wictionary definition is very clear. Why don't you understand how it would apply to being a researcher? Do you know what a researcher does? Do you understand how important it is for them to be carefully attentive to detail?
    – gotube
    Jun 3, 2022 at 1:18

1 Answer 1


Using your example, a researcher who is painstaking about her work may:

  • take detailed and complete notes; in particular her notes do not skip any detail that might be relevant, however small.
  • conduct long and boring experiments that are unlikely to yield results for the sake of completeness.
  • perform checks and reviews of her own work and materials, even if these seldom or never reveal any mistakes.

In short, to perform a task in a painstaking way is to do it with meticulous and careful attention to elements that another might skip, particularly when such elements may be boring or tedious, or when those elements constitute good practice but are not essential.

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