- insignificant; petty: pettifogging details.
- dishonest or unethical in insignificant matters; meanly petty.
Origin of pettifogging
- 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
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018
Examples from the Web for pettifogging
The issues involved are too big and far-reaching for pettifogging methods.The Root of Evil
Why, you would not take such a pettifogging advantage of an old comrade as that.White Lies
It was just as well not to have a pettifogging lawyer to deal with.The Slave of Silence
Fred M. White
None of your pettifogging tribe for me: I shall step to the front, and stay there.For Faith and Freedom
The pettifogging of disobliging illwill could go no further.
- pettypettifogging details
- mean; quibblingpettifogging lawyers
- (intr) to be a pettifogger
Word Origin and History for pettifogging
1570s as a verbal noun; c.1600 as a past participle adjective; see pettifogger. A verb pettifog is rare and attested only from 1640s.
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper