Dictionary.com

pettifog

[ pet-ee-fog, -fawg ]
/ ˈpɛt iˌfɒg, -ˌfɔg /
Save This Word!
See synonyms for: pettifog / pettifogging / pettifogger on Thesaurus.com

verb (used without object), pet·ti·fogged, pet·ti·fog·ging.

to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.
to carry on a petty, shifty, or unethical law business.
to practice chicanery of any sort.

QUIZZES

QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!

Apostrophes can be tricky; prove you know the difference between it’s and its in this crafty quiz!
Question 1 of 12
On the farm, the feed for chicks is significantly different from the roosters’; ______ not even comparable.

Origin of pettifog

First recorded in 1605–15; back formation from pettifogger “ambulance chaser,” equivalent to petty “inferior, secondary” + fogger “shyster,” from Middle Low German voger or Middle Dutch voeger “an arranger, a fixer”; akin to Old English gefōg “a joining, a joint”; see also petty
pet·ti·fog·ger, nounpet·ti·fog·ger·y, noun
ambulance chaser, mouthpiece, pettifogger , shyster
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2021
  • The popular understanding of the word criticize is to find fault, to pettifog.

    Plum Pudding|Christopher Morley

British Dictionary definitions for pettifog

pettifog
/ (ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡ) /

verb -fogs, -fogging or -fogged

(intr) to be a pettifogger
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
Hate Typos? Get Grammar Coach