• synonyms


[pech-uh-luh nt]
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  1. moved to or showing sudden, impatient irritation, especially over some trifling annoyance: a petulant toss of the head.
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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


See more synonyms for petulant on Thesaurus.com
irritable, peevish, fretful, pettish, touchy.
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for petulantly

Historical Examples

  • 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


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

Word Origin

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.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper