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[pech-uh-luh nt] /ˈpɛtʃ ə lənt/
moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance:
a petulant toss of the head.
Origin of petulant
1590-1600; < Latin petulant- (stem of petulāns) impudent, akin to petere to seek, head for
Related forms
petulantly, adverb
unpetulant, adjective
unpetulantly, adverb
irritable, peevish, fretful, pettish, touchy. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for petulantly
Historical Examples
  • It was the woman's voice behind them, petulantly exclaiming.

    Thoroughbreds W. A. Fraser
  • "No; nor will she miss now," cries The Vengeance, petulantly.

    A Tale of Two Cities Charles Dickens
  • "I think the whole affair has been a mistake, anyway," one of them said petulantly.

    The Film of Fear Arnold Fredericks
  • "Well, I never kin tell t'other from which," replied Maria, petulantly.

  • "I've been ringing this bell for hours," it said petulantly.

    Such Blooming Talk L. Major Reynolds
  • He called for help again, and a voice answered him petulantly from the bank.

    Despair's Last Journey David Christie Murray
  • "Oh, I don't care what the devil your name is," he broke in petulantly.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service
  • "I'm sure you'd be awfully in the way there," she said petulantly.

    Little Miss Grouch Samuel Hopkins Adams
  • "Like enough they don't want it," said his mother, petulantly.

  • "Sir, I stand upon my honour," said the colonel, petulantly.

    The English Spy Bernard Blackmantle
British Dictionary definitions for petulantly


irritable, impatient, or sullen in a peevish or capricious way
Derived Forms
petulance, petulancy, noun
petulantly, adverb
Word Origin
C16: via Old French from Latin petulāns bold, from petulāre (unattested) to attack playfully, from petere to assail
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for petulantly



1590s, "immodest, wanton, saucy," from Middle French petulant (mid-14c.), from Latin petulantem (nominative petulans) "wanton, froward, saucy, insolent," present participle of petere "to attack, assail; strive after; ask for, beg, beseech" (see petition (n.)). Meaning "peevish, irritable" first recorded 1775, probably by influence of pet (n.2). Related: Petulantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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