[ pet-ee-fog, -fawg ]
See synonyms for: pettifogpettifoggingpettifogger on

verb (used without object),pet·ti·fogged, pet·ti·fog·ging.
  1. to bicker or quibble over trifles or unimportant matters.

  2. to carry on a petty, shifty, or unethical law business.

  1. to practice chicanery of any sort.

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

Other words from pettifog

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

Words that may be confused with pettifog Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2023

How to use pettifog in a sentence

  • Poor Athenians who are accused of pettifoggery and sophistry!

    The Ego and His Own | Max Stirner
  • It was with pettifoggery and intrigues that Greek liberty ended.

    The Ego and His Own | Max Stirner
  • What then is pettifoggery but a way of utilizing something established without doing away with it?

    The Ego and His Own | Max Stirner

British Dictionary definitions for pettifog


/ (ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡ) /

verb-fogs, -fogging or -fogged
  1. (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