The making of unreasonably fine distinctions.(noun)
American Heritage(R) Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright (c) 2011 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Use "hairsplitting" in a sentence
"This distinction, which might seem at first glance to be religious hairsplitting, is fundamental around the Vatican."
"They, who were so clever in hairsplitting argument, seemed incapable of grasping the Roman idea of the State."
"She recalled the hairsplitting legalisms of the Icelandic sagas."