Definition of pettifog in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɛtɪfɒɡ/

verb (pettifogs, pettifogging, pettifogged)

[no object] archaic
1Quibble about petty points: without lifetime careers to preserve, congressmen would be free to debate rather than pettifog
1.1Practise legal deception or trickery: he will rather pettifog and turn common barrator than be out of employment
More example sentences
  • He probably thought the auditors were pettifogging about practices ‘everyone does’ and that different auditors wouldn't be so picky.
  • They have obfuscated, delayed, lied, backtracked, pettifogged, and cancelled all sorts of commitments under the informal and formal rubrics of the Oslo process.



Pronunciation: /ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡəri/
Example sentences
  • The theological pettifoggery of their literalistic religion has to be read to be believed.
  • Seeing through Julia's pettifoggery, the judge overruled her frivolous objection.
  • Pettifoggery has come to mean legal chicanery, and last week a Senate subcommittee consultant used the word to describe a weakness of U.S. negotiators in dealing with Communist powers.


Early 17th century: back-formation from pettifogger.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: petti|fog

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