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[pet-ee] /ˈpɛt i/

adjective, pettier, pettiest.
of little or no importance or consequence:
petty grievances.
of lesser or secondary importance, merit, etc.; minor:
petty considerations.
having or showing narrow ideas, interests, etc.:
petty minds.
mean or ungenerous in small or trifling things:
a petty person.
showing or caused by meanness of spirit:
a petty revenge.
of secondary rank, especially in relation to others of the same class or kind:
petty states; a petty tyrant.
adjective -tier, -tiest
trivial; trifling; inessential: petty details
of a narrow-minded, mean, or small-natured disposition or character: petty spite
minor or subordinate in rank: petty officialdom
(law) of lesser importance

late 14c., “small,” from phonemic spelling of Old French petit “small” (see petit). In English, not originally disparaging (cf. petty cash, 1834; petty officer, 1570s). Meaning “of small importance” is recorded from 1520s; that of “small-minded” is from 1580s. Related: Pettily; pettiness. An old name for “Northern Lights” was petty dancers.


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  • Pettish

    [pet-ish] /ˈpɛt ɪʃ/ adjective 1. petulantly peevish: a pettish refusal. /ˈpɛtɪʃ/ adjective 1. peevish; petulant: a pettish child adj. 1550s, “impetuous,” evidently from pet (n.2) in its “ill humor” sense + -ish. Meaning “peevish, easily annoyed” is from 1590s. It has naturally been assoc. with PET sb.1, as being a characteristic habit of a “pet” […]

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