Where does the phrase “to split hairs” come from and What does “split hairs” mean?

The phrase “to split hairs” means: To quibble; to make fine distinctions; to cavil or become captious over trifles.

Thanks to the great degree of refinement in modern equipment, a hair may be split or divided lengthwise into numerous fine filaments.

In fact, not long since, we were told of a drill so fine that a series of minute holes could be bored transversely across a hair.

where does the phrase to split hairs come from and what does split hairs mean

But in the seventeenth, the eighteenth, and even the nineteenth century it was still considered no more possible to split a hair than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle.

Hence, anyone arguing over trifles or quibbling about inconsequential matters was likened to anyone who would attempt to split a hair.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist for zippyfacts.com. Born in New York, she loves interesting random facts from all over the world.