[ pet-ee ]
See synonyms for petty on
adjective,pet·ti·er, pet·ti·est.
  1. of little or no importance or consequence: petty grievances.

  2. of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.; minor: petty considerations.

  1. having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.: petty minds.

  2. mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things: a petty person.

  3. showing or caused by meanness of spirit: a petty revenge.

  4. of secondary rank, especially in relation to others of the same class or kind: petty states; a petty tyrant.

Origin of petty

First recorded in 1325–75; Middle English peti(t) “small, minor,” from Old French petit, from unattested Gallo-Romance pittīttus, of expressive origin

synonym study For petty

1. Petty, paltry, trifling, trivial apply to something that is so insignificant as to be almost unworthy of notice. Petty implies contemptible insignificance and littleness, inferiority and small worth: petty quarrels. Paltry is applied to something that is beneath one's notice, even despicable: a paltry amount. Something that is trifling is so unimportant and inconsiderable as to be practically negligible: a trifling error. Something that is trivial is slight, insignificant, and even in incongruous contrast to something that is significant or important: a trivial remark; a trivial task.

Other words for petty

Opposites for petty

Other words from petty

  • pet·ti·ly, adverb
  • pet·ti·ness, noun

Words Nearby petty

Other definitions for Petty (2 of 2)

[ pet-ee ]

  1. Richard, born 1937, U.S. racing-car driver.

  2. William, 2nd Earl of Shelburne, 1st Marquis of Lansdowne. William Petty Fitzmaurice Lansdowne. Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2024

How to use petty in a sentence

British Dictionary definitions for petty


/ (ˈpɛtɪ) /

adjective-tier or -tiest
  1. trivial; trifling; inessential: petty details

  2. of a narrow-minded, mean, or small-natured disposition or character: petty spite

  1. minor or subordinate in rank: petty officialdom

  2. law of lesser importance

Origin of petty

C14: from Old French petit

Derived forms of petty

  • pettily, adverb
  • pettiness, noun

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