to split hairs

Idiom Definition

Idiom Definition - split hairs

"to split hairs"

to argue about very small differences or unimportant details by making over-fine distinctions


Related words and phrases:

Idiom Scenario 1

Idiom Definition - split hairs

Two colleagues are talking ...

Colleague 1:  I don't understand why Jeff earns three times what I earn for doing the exact same job.

Colleague 2:  He doesn't make three times what you do. It is more like two and three-quarters more.

Colleague 1:  Sure, if you want to split hairs but it still remains that he is paid far far more than me for the same work.

Idiom Scenario 2

Idiom Definition - split hairs

Two roommates are talking ...

Roommate 1:  Please take out the trash. It's garbage day.

Roommate 2:  Actually, it's your turn to take out the trash. I took it out last time.

Roommate 1:  Seriously? You want to split hairs? I can hear the garbage truck coming. We need to get the garbage out to the curb.  Oh, never mind. I'll do it.

to split hairs - Usage:


Usage Frequency Index:   585   click for frequency by country

to split hairs - Gerund Form:

Splitting hairs over trivial details can distract from the most important issues.

to split hairs - Examples:

1)  ... or be too shrewd as to split hairs in counting income up to the last penny. 

2)  We can sit here and try to split hairs over the exact wording, but that was a proper flag. 

3)  ... an exact measurement, including the folly of using numbers after decimal points to split hairs

4)  As we did not try to split hairs, we did not look for the exact amount of users before which it is saturated.

5)  I know I'm a lawyer, and it's my job to split hairs, but: ...

6)  ... would be fine with a little more uncertainty. To split hairs, I honestly think the ice conditions are a little too good.

7)  ... should not be split hairs and play with words in an attempt to confuse and mislead the people.

8)  The international community would continue to painfully split hairs on the above issue because it is examining the question in a piece meal fashion.

9)  I don't think they're sitting around waiting for the CDC to split hairs and fine-tune it to a specific area. 

10)  I'm not going to split hairs here -- I'm overall a pretty terrible person.

11)  ... the Fed is stranded there, and it will continue to dither and split hairs until the on-coming recession is undeniable, ...

12)  We split hairs for 40 minutes on the merits of honey.

13)  Still, why split hairs over which staff at what store came up with the winning idea first, ...

14)  The only country to have ever left the EU is Greenland (to split hairs, part of the Danish realm rather than a nation state), ...

15)  ... the decision that it is okay to kill enemies of our state, why split hairs over the delivery system?

16)  Liars may split hairs, decline to answer, change the subject or tone, protest a question, ...

17)  Last time I looked, mother earth was a finite sphere (can split hairs and talk about some hydrogen atoms that are small enough and fast enough to enter/escape ...

18)  Do we really want to split hairs over how many people were killed in which attack? 

19)  ... than a genuine draw-down in military capacity. They're trying to split hairs in order to demonstrate progress.

20)  But I was too tired to split hairs, too weary to double-check the apparent.