pettifogger, pet′i-fog-ėr, n. a lawyer who practises only in paltry cases.
Bear witness, I pray you all,” said the pettifogger, “as to what the knave called me.
Anything can be proved by two false witnesses—thinks the pettifogger.
Now, which was the best pedigree, that of the son of the pastry-cook, or that of the son of the pettifogger?
He is a pettifogger, and surely must know that there is such a thing as feloniously breaking into a man's house.
This lawyer, Overend by name, was a sort of pettifogger, who laid himself out for poor men's work.
Now which was the best pedigree, that of the son of the pastry-cook, or that of the son of the pettifogger?
But to hire out to impress people with another's theme is to be a pettifogger, and the genus pettifogger has nearly had his day.
My opponent was what was known in the States as a pettifogger.
He is always bringing writs of error, like a pettifogger, and reversing of judgments, though the case be never so plain.
1560s, from petty; the second element possibly from obsolete Dutch focker, from Flemish focken "to cheat," or from cognate Middle English fugger, from Fugger the renowned family of merchants and financiers of 15c.-16c. Augsburg. In German, Flemish and Dutch, the name became a word for "monopolist, rich man, usurer."
A 'petty Fugger' would mean one who on a small scale practices the dishonourable devices for gain popularly attributed to great financiers; it seems possible that the phrase 'petty fogger of the law,' applied in this sense to some notorious person, may have caught the popular fancy. [OED first edition, in a rare burst of pure speculation]However, OED also calls attention to pettifactor "legal agent who undertakes small cases" (1580s), which, though attested slightly later, might be the source of this. Related: Pettifoggery.