Precise Time and Time Interval (PTTI) is the name given to the art and science of
determining the correct time of day and maintaining standards of
frequency. As a hobby, it can be taken to many different levels, depending
on the hobbyist's investment of time, effort and money. Many people start
out in this hobby by fastidiously keeping their wristwatches and
clocks "on time" as nearly as possible. This naturally leads to a
search for more and more accurate time references. Before long, the
hobbyist will discover (or at least suspect) that there are subtle differences
in the connotations of the correct time as opposed to
the precise or exact time.
Here is a quote from the Funk & Wagnalls Standard Handbook of Synonyms, Antonyms & Prepositions,
(Copyright 1947 by Funk & Wagnalls Publishing Company, Inc.)
That which is precise is clearly determined; no more or no less than; scrupulously
exact; as, a precise reckoning, the precise instant. Accurate,
correct, definite, exact and precise, all denote absolute conformity to some external
standard. Accurate indicates conformity secured by scrupulous care. An
accurate measurement or account can be verified and found true in all
particulars. The native English word careful carries less sharp certainty;
careful stupidity may blunder, accurate stupidity is almost unthinkable.
Exact indicates that which is worked out to the utmost limit of requirement in every
respect; precise refers to a like conformity secured by cutting off all excess.
Exact and precise are often interchangeable; but, as filling out is a greater
achievement than cutting off, exact is the higher word; we speak of
the exact sciences, not of the precise sciences. Hence, precise has
often an invidious meaning, denoting excessive care of petty details; we speak of the
martinet as insufferably precise, not insufferably exact. Something
intricately exact and requiring precision and care is nice; as, a nice
balance, a nice point in the discussion.
Correct applies to a required or enforced correspondence with a standard. This
is especially seen in the use of the verb; the printers corrects the proof. That
is correct which is free from fault or mistake. Thus correct is lower
in the scale than accurate, exact or precise, which are positive, indicating
attainment of the right, while correct is negative, denoting avoidance of
the wrong; a composition may be correct, but intolerably dull; to speak
of a correct statement or discrimination is to give very mild approval;
an accurate statement or an exact discrimination is felt to have
some noticeable excellence.
An examination is critical, exact and precise when it delves into