[ pet-ee-fog-ing, -faw-ging ]
/ ˈpɛt iˌfɒg ɪŋ, -ˌfɔ gɪŋ /


insignificant; petty: pettifogging details.
dishonest or unethical in insignificant matters; meanly petty.

Nearby words

  1. petticoat insulator,
  2. petticoat narcissus,
  3. petticoated,
  4. pettifog,
  5. pettifogger,
  6. pettily,
  7. petting,
  8. petting zoo,
  9. pettipants,
  10. pettish

Origin of pettifogging

First recorded in 1570–80; see origin at pettifog, -ing2


[ 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 formspet·ti·fog·ger, nounpet·ti·fog·ger·y, noun

Can be confusedambulance chaser mouthpiece pettifogger shyster Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pettifogging

British Dictionary definitions for pettifogging


/ (ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡɪŋ) /


pettypettifogging details
mean; quibblingpettifogging lawyers


/ (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

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