- 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 for cavil on Thesaurus.com
Examples from the Web for cavils
Cavils like this are superfluous in view of the abundant testimony to the contrary.Tea Leaves
He had had cavils not a few with Oglethorpe and the Georgian Trustees.
I prefer the atheist who blasphemes to the sceptic who cavils.Bouvard and Pcuchet, part 2
It would only expose him, he said, to the suspicions and the cavils of his enemies.History of the Reign of Philip the Second, King of Spain.
William H. Prescott
There were also delays, hesitations and cavils at home, which were more inexplicable.
- (intr; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
- a captious trifling objection
Word Origin and History for cavils
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).