- 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 cavilling
I have no taste for cavilling or grumbling over events that are past.Khartoum Campaign, 1898
But the moment we pass the portal all cavilling is awed to silence.Northern Spain
Edgar T. A. Wigram
I do think, dear, you are only cavilling and making difficulties.A Likely Story
William De Morgan
"Shadow-boxing," he observed in a cavilling spirit to his companion.The Adventures of Sally
P. G. Wodehouse
A man's life was a man's life, and what was the use of cavilling at facts!Cape of Storms
- (intr; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
- a captious trifling objection
Word Origin and History for cavilling
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).