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.
to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections:
to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
a trivial and annoying objection.
the raising of such objections.
Historical Examples

verb -ils, -illing, -illed (US) -ils, -iling, -iled
(intransitive; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
a captious trifling objection

1540s, from Middle French caviller “to mock, jest,” from Latin cavillari “to jeer, mock; satirize, argue scoffingly” (also source of Italian cavillare, Spanish cavilar), from cavilla “jest, jeering,” related to calumnia (see calumny).


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