Definition of petty in English:

petty

adjective

  • 1Of little importance; trivial.

    ‘the petty divisions of party politics’
    • ‘I was also tempted to go out to my car and get my gloves but felt that the gloves were a minor and petty concern when there was a missing cat.’
    • ‘Then there are the petty differences in industrial standards and regulations from country to country.’
    • ‘Your father and my husband began to have problems with each other, regarding petty matters of business.’
    • ‘They must ignore politicians who thrive on petty and sensational matters.’
    • ‘It is perhaps because these matters are so petty and trivial in appearance that they afford so excellent a training.’
    • ‘Though he strongly disagreed with it, Undran had been known to explode once in a while towards petty matters such as scratches on car doors or streaks on the windows.’
    • ‘I've already experienced, in a very minor way, the petty rules that are an everyday fact of life in Iran.’
    • ‘She was afraid he'd find her silly for becoming so upset over such a petty matter.’
    • ‘The workers said the dispute was also about an arrogant management culture and petty rules and regulations.’
    • ‘Harmony is created when we treat one another, and ourselves, with respect and when we put aside our petty concerns for the good of the whole.’
    • ‘I knew that Holly understood my reasons no matter how pathetic or petty they might seem to be.’
    • ‘It diminishes the importance of real problems if they are lumped together with petty complaints.’
    • ‘When I wasn't talking to Reger, I was dealing hundreds of small petty matters concerning the ceremony.’
    • ‘He listened to all her problems, no matter how petty and insignificant, and offered solutions, never once laughing.’
    • ‘This states that everyone, no matter how petty the circumstances, is allowed to receive a personal audience with the Queen to ask for her opinion on the matter.’
    • ‘She didn't understand why she was upset over a petty matter such as this.’
    • ‘Let the good that he did live after him, and the evil be interred with the petty theses of small-minded philosophers.’
    • ‘For that matter, why these petty distinctions between clothing and food, sporting goods and home decor?’
    • ‘This snooty imagery is aided by the fact that the band are still teenagers and sing about the sometimes petty concerns of their age.’
    • ‘The level of petty detail pursued by island officials calls to mind Hannah Arendt's phrase, the ‘banality of evil’.’
    trivial, trifling, minor, small, slight, unimportant, insignificant, inessential, inconsequential, inconsiderable, negligible, paltry, footling, fiddling, niggling, pettifogging, nugatory, of little account
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    1. 1.1 Unduly concerned with trivial matters, especially in a small-minded or spiteful way.
      ‘she thought readers were being petty in writing to complain about blocked paths’
      • ‘Call it small minded and petty, or just a harmless example of traditional rivalry, but the majority of Scots will take great pleasure in watching England under-achieve in the Far East.’
      • ‘As such, he is the object of much spiteful envy and petty jealousy from members opposite.’
      • ‘I complain that the human race is often small minded and petty.’
      • ‘This whole saga has shown Central Government at its very worst - combining unnecessary meddling, pointless organisational change and petty spite.’
      • ‘Even in the advertising industry, it seems that you have to show small-minded, petty acts of vandalism to get noticed.’
      • ‘Surely Mother Nature meting out carnage on such a grand scale shows just how petty and futile man-made squabbles really are.’
      • ‘It was a petty tactic to try and dupe the officials and undermine a generally well natured game.’
      • ‘Aren't we all, too much into trivial matters and petty thinking and driven by insatiable greed?’
      • ‘If there were any complaints to be made, they might seem minor, personal and at times even petty.’
      • ‘More widely known for its petty squabbles and back-biting, the women's game closed ranks in support of Morariu.’
      • ‘No matter how childish, no matter how petty or wrong she'd been I was always on her side.’
      • ‘Dropping the appeal to the privy council was a matter of petty nationalist self aggrandisement.’
      • ‘But Chaudhuri insisted that neither his views, nor any one else's, would have caused Nehru to wreak a petty act of revenge.’
      • ‘By the time I reached home I had to admit that I'd been small, petty and spiteful.’
      • ‘If you disagree with Berlind's points then by all means criticise, but low blows at his use of language are petty and unnecessary.’
      • ‘The world of the film swings between petty, spiteful, foolish and resigned.’
      • ‘Envy is one of the worst feelings in the world because it's petty and spiteful.’
      • ‘The president's closest advisor recklessly betrays a state secret for petty revenge.’
      • ‘It seems petty, no matter your feelings about religion, not to value any expression of concern.’
      • ‘One whinge that may be a bit petty concerns the thermal paste.’
      small-minded, narrow-minded, mean, ungenerous, grudging, shabby, spiteful
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  • 2attributive Of secondary or lesser importance, rank, or scale; minor.

    ‘a petty official’
    • ‘The meager funds provided by government for medical facilities in rural areas are squandered away by local petty officials.’
    • ‘Nothing was done to stop arbitrary rule by petty officials.’
    • ‘In the British sphere of influence, however, what the Queen does and says is proper by definition so she does not have to worry about petty would-be dictators.’
    • ‘Now, I can't even tempt a minor secretarial official with a petty bribe.’
    • ‘I don't know what is more extraordinary: the inability of the Labour Party to close down this story or the lengths to which petty party officials will go to undermine their own leader.’
    less important, of less importance, secondary, subsidiary, subordinate, ancillary, auxiliary
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    1. 2.1Law (of a crime) of lesser importance.
      ‘petty theft’
      Compare with grand
      • ‘In the past we have had some petty vandalism but nothing on this scale.’
      • ‘Nearly all were poor, young and single convicted for petty crimes, usually theft.’
      • ‘They are beggars, petty thieves and minor dealers.’
      • ‘Smaller crimes like petty theft, and burglary were common, but not murder.’
      • ‘This impoverishment has further increased the incidence of petty corruption.’

Origin

Late Middle English (in the sense ‘small in size’): from a phonetic spelling of the pronunciation of French petit ‘small’. Compare with petit.

Pronunciation

petty

/ˈpɛti/