- 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
1540–50; < Latin cavillārī to jeer, scoff, quibble, verbal derivative of cavilla jesting, banter
SynonymsSee more synonyms for cavil on Thesaurus.com
1. carp, complain, criticize.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
- (intr; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
- a captious trifling objection
C16: from Old French caviller, from Latin cavillārī to jeer, from cavilla raillery
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
Word Origin and History for cavillers'
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).
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper