moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance: a petulant toss of the head.

Origin of petulant

1590–1600; < Latin petulant- (stem of petulāns) impudent, akin to petere to seek, head for
Related formspet·u·lant·ly, adverbun·pet·u·lant, adjectiveun·pet·u·lant·ly, adverb

Synonyms for petulant Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for petulantly

Historical Examples of petulantly

  • It was the woman's voice behind them, petulantly exclaiming.


    W. A. Fraser

  • "No; nor will she miss now," cries The Vengeance, petulantly.

    A Tale of Two Cities

    Charles Dickens

  • "I think the whole affair has been a mistake, anyway," one of them said petulantly.

    The Film of Fear

    Arnold Fredericks

  • "Well, I never kin tell t'other from which," replied Maria, petulantly.

  • "I've been ringing this bell for hours," it said petulantly.

    Such Blooming Talk

    L. Major Reynolds

British Dictionary definitions for petulantly



irritable, impatient, or sullen in a peevish or capricious way
Derived Formspetulance or petulancy, nounpetulantly, adverb

Word Origin for petulant

C16: via Old French from Latin petulāns bold, from petulāre (unattested) to attack playfully, from petere to assail
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 petulantly



1590s, "immodest, wanton, saucy," from Middle French petulant (mid-14c.), from Latin petulantem (nominative petulans) "wanton, froward, saucy, insolent," present participle of petere "to attack, assail; strive after; ask for, beg, beseech" (see petition (n.)). Meaning "peevish, irritable" first recorded 1775, probably by influence of pet (n.2). Related: Petulantly.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper