Definition of petty in English:

petty

adjective

  • 1Of little importance; trivial:

    ‘the petty divisions of party politics’
    • ‘For that matter, why these petty distinctions between clothing and food, sporting goods and home decor?’
    • ‘Let the good that he did live after him, and the evil be interred with the petty theses of small-minded philosophers.’
    • ‘It diminishes the importance of real problems if they are lumped together with petty complaints.’
    • ‘It is perhaps because these matters are so petty and trivial in appearance that they afford so excellent a training.’
    • ‘When I wasn't talking to Reger, I was dealing hundreds of small petty matters concerning the ceremony.’
    • ‘This snooty imagery is aided by the fact that the band are still teenagers and sing about the sometimes petty concerns of their age.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘They must ignore politicians who thrive on petty and sensational matters.’
    • ‘I've already experienced, in a very minor way, the petty rules that are an everyday fact of life in Iran.’
    • ‘The workers said the dispute was also about an arrogant management culture and petty rules and regulations.’
    • ‘He listened to all her problems, no matter how petty and insignificant, and offered solutions, never once laughing.’
    • ‘The level of petty detail pursued by island officials calls to mind Hannah Arendt's phrase, the ‘banality of evil’.’
    • ‘I knew that Holly understood my reasons no matter how pathetic or petty they might seem to be.’
    • ‘She didn't understand why she was upset over a petty matter such as this.’
    • ‘Your father and my husband began to have problems with each other, regarding petty matters of business.’
    • ‘She was afraid he'd find her silly for becoming so upset over such a petty matter.’
    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’
      • ‘No matter how childish, no matter how petty or wrong she'd been I was always on her side.’
      • ‘But Chaudhuri insisted that neither his views, nor any one else's, would have caused Nehru to wreak a petty act of revenge.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘If there were any complaints to be made, they might seem minor, personal and at times even petty.’
      • ‘The president's closest advisor recklessly betrays a state secret for petty revenge.’
      • ‘As such, he is the object of much spiteful envy and petty jealousy from members opposite.’
      • ‘This whole saga has shown Central Government at its very worst - combining unnecessary meddling, pointless organisational change and petty spite.’
      • ‘Aren't we all, too much into trivial matters and petty thinking and driven by insatiable greed?’
      • ‘I complain that the human race is often small minded and petty.’
      • ‘It was a petty tactic to try and dupe the officials and undermine a generally well natured game.’
      • ‘If you disagree with Berlind's points then by all means criticise, but low blows at his use of language are petty and unnecessary.’
      • ‘Surely Mother Nature meting out carnage on such a grand scale shows just how petty and futile man-made squabbles really are.’
      • ‘The world of the film swings between petty, spiteful, foolish and resigned.’
      • ‘One whinge that may be a bit petty concerns the thermal paste.’
      • ‘Dropping the appeal to the privy council was a matter of petty nationalist self aggrandisement.’
      • ‘Envy is one of the worst feelings in the world because it's petty and spiteful.’
      • ‘More widely known for its petty squabbles and back-biting, the women's game closed ranks in support of Morariu.’
      • ‘By the time I reached home I had to admit that I'd been small, petty and spiteful.’
      • ‘It seems petty, no matter your feelings about religion, not to value any expression of concern.’
      • ‘Even in the advertising industry, it seems that you have to show small-minded, petty acts of vandalism to get noticed.’
      small-minded, narrow-minded, mean, ungenerous, grudging, shabby, spiteful
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  • 2[attributive] Of secondary or lesser importance, rank, or scale; minor:

    ‘a petty official’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Nothing was done to stop arbitrary rule by petty officials.’
    • ‘The meager funds provided by government for medical facilities in rural areas are squandered away by local petty officials.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Now, I can't even tempt a minor secretarial official with a petty bribe.’
    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
      • ‘They are beggars, petty thieves and minor dealers.’
      • ‘In the past we have had some petty vandalism but nothing on this scale.’
      • ‘This impoverishment has further increased the incidence of petty corruption.’
      • ‘Smaller crimes like petty theft, and burglary were common, but not murder.’
      • ‘Nearly all were poor, young and single convicted for petty crimes, usually theft.’

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/