Definition of petulant in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈpɛtjʊl(ə)nt/


(Of a person or their manner) childishly sulky or bad-tempered: he was moody and petulant a petulant shake of the head
More example sentences
  • By midnight, he was pouting like a petulant kid being kept after school.
  • I cycled off, leaving him to glower after me like a petulant teenager.
  • It's all because I am consumed by trying to make it work right away, like some petulant child.



Pronunciation: /ˈpɛtjʊl(ə)ntli/
Example sentences
  • I looked up at this elegant, slender woman blessed with a large and loving family and plenty of resources and said, rather petulantly, ‘But she could find something else to do.’
  • But I have to petulantly admit that when I've capitulated and carried out their wishes, their ideas do feel right.
  • It is crucial that, if early decisions go against them, Celtic's players do not react petulantly and adopt a persecution complex.


Late 16th century (in the sense 'immodest'): from French pétulant, from Latin petulant- 'impudent' (related to petere 'aim at, seek'). The current sense (mid 18th century) is influenced by pettish.

  • compete from early 17th century:

    This word is from Latin competere in its late sense ‘strive or contend for (something)’: the elements here are com- ‘together’ and petere ‘aim at, seek’. As well as giving us competition (early 17th century) this is also the source of competent (Late Middle English); while petere gives us: impetus [M17] and impetuous (Late Middle English) ‘seek towards, assail’; petition (Middle English) an act of seeking for something; petulant (late 16th century) originally immodest in what you seek; and repeat (Late Middle English) seek again.

For editors and proofreaders

Line breaks: petu|lant

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