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Word of the Day
Thursday, January 30, 2003

Definitions for cavil

  1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually followed by at or about ): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
  2. to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
  3. a trivial and annoying objection.

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Citations for cavil
During the hectic middle decades of the 20th century, from the end of the Great Depression through the Second World War and into the 1950s, a small circle of intellectuals gathered weekly in and around the University of Oxford to drink, smoke, quip, cavil, read aloud their works in progress, and endure or enjoy with as much grace as they could muster the sometimes blistering critiques that followed. Philip Zaleski and Carol Zaleski, "Oxford's Influential Inklings," The Chronicle of Higher Education, May 8, 2015
My only slight cavil about this production is that Mamet’s musical rhythms are affected by having one authentic American and two British actors in the cast. Michael Billington, "American Buffalo review—Damian Lewis is right on the money in Mamet classic," The Guardian, April 27, 2015
Origin of cavil
Cavil entered English in the mid-1500s from the Latin cavillārī meaning "to jeer, scoff, quibble."