One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
An inferior legal practitioner, especially one who deals with petty cases or employs dubious practices.
pedant, precisionist, perfectionist, formalist, literalist, stickler, traditionalist, doctrinaire, quibbler, hair-splitter, dogmatist, casuist, sophist, fault-finder, caviller, carperView synonyms
- ‘While the law asserts otherwise, Truth's activism demonstrates the capacity of disfranchised Americans to seize legal agency, to demand a voice ‘among the pettifoggers.’’
- ‘In such an argument there would always be matter for answers, rejoinders, replications, triplications, quadruplications, and that infinite web of disputes that our pettifoggers have spun out as far as they could in favor of lawsuits.’
- ‘Ames's tavern sign, then, plays on the tension between lawyers with formal legal training like Dudley, and village tavern keepers and pettifoggers like Ames himself.’
- ‘Thus women could practice law in some areas or cases at the level of amateur pettifoggers, a situation that led some western observers to believe that the Russian legal profession was much more open to women than it was.’
Mid 16th century: from petty + obsolete fogger ‘underhand dealer’, probably from Fugger, the name of a family of merchants in Augsburg in the 15th and 16th centuries.
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