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[puhngk-choo-uh l] /ˈpʌŋk tʃu əl/
strictly observant of an appointed or regular time; not late; prompt.
made, occurring, etc., at the scheduled or proper time:
punctual payment.
pertaining to or of the nature of a point.
Origin of punctual
1350-1400; Middle English < Medieval Latin pūnctuālis of a point, equivalent to Latin pūnctu(s) a point, a pricking (pung(ere) to prick + -tus suffix of v. action) + -ālis -al1; see pungent
Related forms
punctually, adverb
punctualness, noun
nonpunctual, adjective
nonpunctually, adverb
nonpunctualness, noun
unpunctual, adjective
unpunctually, adverb
unpunctualness, noun
Can be confused
punctilious, punctual. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for punctual
  • She was always punctual, and always sat alone in the pews in the shadows, out of the multicolored light of the lampshades.
  • In his own house, he insisted on punctual appointments.
  • When the anniversary arrived, both parties were punctual to their engagement.
  • Buses and trains are not known to be punctual or to run on a set schedule.
  • Overdone people are organized, punctual and kind of fusty.
  • The chancellor himself has publicly staked his future on a punctual start to the euro.
  • Lateness is a self-fulfilling prophecy: aware that everyone else is likely to be late, the punctual stop making an effort.
  • First, few ex-students are such punctual borrowers, so the benefit is worthless to many.
  • Group members were punctual, impeccably groomed and collegial but not gossipy.
  • Better be punctual: your second tardy return gets you booted from the system.
British Dictionary definitions for punctual


arriving or taking place at an arranged time; prompt
(of a person) having the characteristic of always keeping to arranged times, as for appointments, meetings, etc
(obsolete) precise; exact; apposite
(maths) consisting of or confined to a point in space
Derived Forms
punctuality, noun
punctually, adverb
Word Origin
C14: from Medieval Latin punctuālis concerning detail, from Latin punctum point
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for punctual

c.1400, from Medieval Latin punctualis, from Latin punctus "a pricking" (see point (n.)). Originally "having a sharp point; of the nature of a point;" meaning "prompt" first recorded 1670s, from notion of "insisting on fine points." Related: Punctually.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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