- 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
Related Words for pettifoggerhypocrite, chiseler, trickster, mouthpiece, cheater, scammer, pettifogger, nitpicker, quibbler, complainer, niggler, carper, whiner, caviller, faultfinder, impersonator, cheat, faker, sham, fake
Examples from the Web for pettifogger
Historical Examples of pettifogger
Bear witness, I pray you all,” said the Pettifogger, “as to what the knave called me.The Sleeping Bard
I never said you were a pettifogger, or a scoundrel; but I did say you were little Else.The Jest Book
He was a pettifogger; their (the Smiths') cat-paw to do their dirty work.The Story of the Mormons
William Alexander Linn
Now which was the best pedigree, that of the son of the pastry-cook, or that of the son of the pettifogger?
Now, which was the best pedigree, that of the son of the pastry-cook, or that of the son of the pettifogger?
- 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
Word Origin for pettifogger
- (intr) to be a pettifogger
Word Origin and History for pettifogger
1560s, from petty; the second element possibly from obsolete Dutch focker, from Flemish focken "to cheat," or from cognate Middle English fugger, from Fugger the renowned family of merchants and financiers of 15c.-16c. Augsburg. In German, Flemish and Dutch, the name became a word for "monopolist, rich man, usurer."
A 'petty Fugger' would mean one who on a small scale practices the dishonourable devices for gain popularly attributed to great financiers; it seems possible that the phrase 'petty fogger of the law,' applied in this sense to some notorious person, may have caught the popular fancy. [OED first edition, in a rare burst of pure speculation]
However, OED also calls attention to pettifactor "legal agent who undertakes small cases" (1580s), which, though attested slightly later, might be the source of this. Related: Pettifoggery.