Definition of cavil in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈkavəl/


[no object]
Make petty or unnecessary objections: they caviled at the cost
More example sentences
  • It's a fantastic achievement - and one in the eye for those who have carped and cavilled about the underperformance of Great Britain's competitors in Athens.
  • They are caviling that inspectors are being recruited from too many countries including Asians and Africans.
  • So, your Honour, I think that is about all I need to say about cavilling or challenging the judgment of Justice Kirby.


A objection seen as petty or unnecessary.
Example sentences
  • But although I sympathise with almost all of what Todorov says, and applaud his achievement in saying it, I have a minor cavil about the way he gets his argument going.
  • Smiley's attempt to root the novel in a specific political climate seems an unnecessary distraction, and a few characters are too broadly typed, but these are minor cavils.
  • These minor cavils notwithstanding, Linder deserves considerable credit for resurrecting this important work and rendering it into such lucid, vigorous English.



Example sentences
  • We don't need any more headstrong, litigious lawyers; we've been groaning under the weight of carpers and cavillers for years.
  • Almost three years on, the carpers and cavillers are still complaining about the huge sums extracted from the telcos in the European 3G spectrum auctions.
  • Frank Hadden has certainly had his detractors down the years, but even his most stringent caviller would have to admit that this is a man who has served his time.


Mid 16th century: from French caviller, from Latin cavillari, from cavilla 'mockery'.

Words that rhyme with cavil

Cavell, gavel, gravel, ravel, travel

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: cav·il

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