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


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

Origin of pettifogging

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

Definition for pettifogging (2 of 2)


[ 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 Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for pettifogging

British Dictionary definitions for pettifogging (1 of 2)


/ (ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡɪŋ) /


pettypettifogging details
mean; quibblingpettifogging lawyers

British Dictionary definitions for pettifogging (2 of 2)


/ (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