Definition of pettifog in English:



[no object]archaic
  • 1Quibble about petty points.

    ‘without lifetime careers to preserve, congressmen would be free to debate rather than pettifog’
    minor criticism, trivial objection, trivial complaint, adverse comment, protest, query, argument, exception, moan, grumble, grouse, cavil
    find fault with, raise trivial objections to, complain about, object to, cavil at, carp about
    View synonyms
    1. 1.1 Practise legal deception or trickery.
      ‘he will rather pettifog and turn common barrator than be out of employment’
      • ‘They have obfuscated, delayed, lied, backtracked, pettifogged, and cancelled all sorts of commitments under the informal and formal rubrics of the Oslo process.’
      • ‘He probably thought the auditors were pettifogging about practices ‘everyone does’ and that different auditors wouldn't be so picky.’


Early 17th century: back-formation from pettifogger.