pettifog

[ pet-ee-fog, -fawg ]
/ ˈpɛt iˌfɒg, -ˌfɔg /

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.

Origin of pettifog

1605–15; back formation from pettifogger, equivalent to petty + fogger < Middle Low German voger or Middle Dutch voeger one who arranges things; akin to Old English gefōg a joining

Related forms

pet·ti·fog·ger, nounpet·ti·fog·ger·y, noun

Can be confused

ambulance chaser mouthpiece pettifogger shyster
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pettifogger

British Dictionary definitions for pettifogger (1 of 2)

pettifogger

/ (ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡə) /

noun

a lawyer of inferior status who conducts unimportant cases, esp one who is unscrupulous or resorts to trickery
any person who quibbles or fusses over details

Derived Forms

pettifoggery, noun

Word Origin for pettifogger

C16: from petty + fogger, of uncertain origin, perhaps from Fugger, name of a family (C15–16) of German financiers

British Dictionary definitions for pettifogger (2 of 2)

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