[ pet-ee; French puh-tee ]
/ ˈpɛt i; French pəˈti /

adjective Law.

small; petty; minor.

Nearby words

  1. petiolate,
  2. petiole,
  3. petiolule,
  4. petipa,
  5. petipa, marius,
  6. petit beurre,
  7. petit bourgeois,
  8. petit déjeuner,
  9. petit feu,
  10. petit four

Origin of petit

1325–75; Middle English < Middle French; see petty

ense petit placidam sub libertate quietem

[ en-se pe-tit plah-ki-dahm soo b lee-ber-tah-te kwee-ey-tem; English en-see pee-tit plas-i-dam suhb lib-er-tey-tee kwahy-ee-tem ]
/ ˈɛn sɛ ˈpɛ tɪt ˈplɑ kɪˌdɑm sʊb ˌli bɛrˈtɑ tɛ kwiˈeɪ tɛm; English ˈɛn si ˈpi tɪt ˈplæs ɪˌdæm sʌb ˌlɪb ərˈteɪ ti kwaɪˈi tɛm /


by the sword she seeks quiet peace under liberty: motto of Massachusetts. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for petit

British Dictionary definitions for petit


/ (ˈpɛtɪ) /


(prenominal) mainly law of little or lesser importance; smallpetit jury

Word Origin for petit

C14: from Old French: little, of obscure origin


/ (French pəti) /


Roland (rɔlɑ̃). 1924–2011, French ballet dancer and choreographer. His innovative ballets include Carmen (1949), Kraanerg (1969), and The Blue Angel (1985); he also choreographed films, such as Anything Goes (1956) and Black Tights (1960)
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 petit



mid-14c., "trifling," from Old French petit "small, little, young, few in numbers" (11c.), probably from stem of Late Latin pitinnus "small," of uncertain origin; it corresponds to no known Latin form and perhaps is from a Celtic root pett- "part, piece, bit" also found in Italian pezza, English piece. Attested as a surname from 1086. Replaced by petty in most usages, except in established forms such as petit bourgeois "conventional middle-class" (1832; used in English by Charlotte Brontë earlier than by Marx or Engels); petit mal (1842, literally "little evil," mild form of epilepsy), and petit four (1884), which in French means "little oven," from Old French four "oven," from Latin furnus.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper