- to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually followed by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
- to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
- a trivial and annoying objection.
- the raising of such objections.
Origin of cavil
SynonymsSee more synonyms on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for cavil
It would be foolish to cavil about living in any city, with its many pleasures and diversions, he says.Edmund White: Sex, Success, and Survival
February 11, 2014
Dalton liked sympathy too well to cavil about his title to it.The Daltons, Volume I (of II)
Charles James Lever
I need not cavil at the phrases 'refinement' and 'gentleman.'English Literature and Society in the Eighteenth Century
What good purpose then will it serve to cavil at the monks forever?Bibliomania in the Middle Ages
Frederick Somner Merryweather
Not now will we dispute and cavil; not now will we judge harshly of each other.The Last Days of Pompeii
Edward George Bulwer-Lytton
This is Mythology, and here is, beyond all cavil, a late corruption of Religion.Myth, Ritual, and Religion, Vol. 1
- (intr; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
- a captious trifling objection
Word Origin and History for cavil
1540s, from Middle French caviller "to mock, jest," from Latin cavillari "to jeer, mock; satirize, argue scoffingly" (also source of Italian cavillare, Spanish cavilar), from cavilla "jest, jeering," related to calumnia (see calumny).