Definition of punctual adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



BrE BrE//ˈpʌŋktʃuəl//
; NAmE NAmE//ˈpʌŋktʃuəl//
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happening or doing something at the arranged or correct time; not late She has been reliable and punctual. a punctual start at 9 o’clock Always be punctual for an interview. Word Originlate 17th cent.: from medieval Latin punctualis, from Latin punctum ‘a point’. CulturepunctualityMost Americans and British people would agree that it is good manners to be punctual (= to arrive at the right time) for an appointment. Arriving on time for formal events such as a business meeting or an interview is considered important. Many people try to arrive a few minutes early for an appointment to avoid the risk of rushing in at the last minute. Even in less formal situations people are generally expected to think about the person they are meeting and not to keep them waiting unnecessarily.People are also expected to arrive on time for social events, especially weddings. Traditionally, only the bride is allowed to be late. People are generally more relaxed about the time they arrive for more informal social occasions. When meeting a friend for lunch at a restaurant, people try to arrive at the time arranged, or no more than five minutes late. If they are later than this the person they are meeting will start to think they are not going to come at all. However, when invited to dinner in somebody's home it is actually considered polite to arrive a few minutes late. Under no circumstances should guests arrive early. Some formal invitations to dinner may say ‘seven for seven-thirty’, meaning that guests should arrive any time after 7 p.m. in order to be ready to eat at 7.30 p.m. At a party, however, people may arrive an hour or more after the start time written on the invitation.If somebody does arrive late, they are expected to apologize (= say they are sorry). Depending on the circumstances and how late they are, people may say, ‘I'm sorry I'm late’ or ‘Sorry to keep you waiting’. If they are very late they may feel obliged to give an explanation as well, e.g. ‘I'm sorry I'm so late, but the traffic was bad.’People expect concerts, plays etc. to start at the time advertised, and if they are kept waiting a long time they may start a slow handclap to show that they are impatient. But anyone who arrives late for a show may not be allowed in until there is a convenient break in the performance. People also expect public transport to depart and arrive on time and get very annoyed if delays are frequent. Many people do not like to feel that their time is being wasted and that they are being kept waiting without good reason.Extra examples Punctual attendance at all classes is required. She has worked for me for two years and has always been reliable and punctual. We made a punctual start at 9 o’clock.
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: punctual