Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • n. An animal kept for amusement or companionship.
  • n. An object of the affections.
  • n. A person especially loved or indulged; a favorite: the teacher's pet.
  • adj. Kept as a pet: a pet cat.
  • adj. Particularly cherished or indulged: a pet grandchild.
  • adj. Expressing or showing affection: a pet name.
  • adj. Being a favorite: a pet topic.
  • transitive v. To stroke or caress gently; pat. See Synonyms at caress.
  • intransitive v. Informal To make love by fondling and caressing.
  • n. A fit of bad temper or pique.
  • intransitive v. To be sulky and peevish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. An animal kept as a companion.
  • n. One who is excessively loyal to their superior.
  • v. To stroke or fondle (an animal).
  • v. To stroke or fondle (another person) amorously.
  • v. Of two or more people, to stroke and fondle one another amorously.
  • v. To be a pet.
  • n. A fit of petulance, a sulk, arising from the impression that one has been offended or slighted.
  • n. Abbreviation of petition.
  • n. A term of endearment usually applied to women and children.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Petted; indulged; admired; cherished
  • n. A cade lamb; a lamb brought up by hand.
  • n. Any person especially cherished and indulged; a fondling; a darling; often, a favorite child.
  • n. A slight fit of peevishness or fretfulness.
  • n. Any animal kept as a companion, usually in or around one's home, typically domesticated and cared for attentively and often affectionately. Distinguished from animals raised for food or to perform useful tasks, as a draft animal.
  • intransitive v. To be a pet.
  • transitive v. To treat as a pet; to fondle; to indulge.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • n. Any domesticated or tamed animal, as a dog, a squirrel, or a dove, that is fondled and indulged; in particular, a lamb brought up by hand; a cadelamb; in general, a fondling.
  • n. A darling or favorite child; one who is fondled and indulged or treated with peculiar kindness or favor; also, a spoiled child; a wilful young woman.
  • Fondled and indulged: as, a pet lamb; a pet rabbit; a pet pigeon.
  • Favored; favorite; cherished: as, a pet theory.
  • To treat as a pet; fondle; indulge: as, to pet a child or a kitten.
  • To be peevish or cross; sulk.
  • To make peevish; pique; offend; make cross.
  • n. A fit, as of peevishness, ill humor, or discontent.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • n. a domesticated animal kept for companionship or amusement
  • v. stroke or caress in an erotic manner, as during lovemaking
  • n. a special loved one
  • n. using a computerized radiographic technique to examine the metabolic activity in various tissues (especially in the brain)
  • adj. preferred above all others and treated with partiality
  • v. stroke or caress gently
  • n. a fit of petulance or sulkiness (especially at what is felt to be a slight)

Etymologies

Scottish Gaelic peata, tame animal, pet, from Old Irish.
Origin unknown.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Originally from Northern English and Scots dialects, origin is unsure but may have arisen due to influence of petty pertaining to children and later companion animals. Almost certainly of Germanic etymology. (Wiktionary)
Origin unknown. (Wiktionary)
Abbreviation of petition. (Wiktionary)
Diminutive of petal. (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • Some have pet dogs, some have pet cats: then why not a _pet quiz? _ "

    Tales and Novels — Volume 03

  • No shelf of nature books would be complete without a volume examining the bond between people and those animal species we have invited into our homes—that rich, reciprocal process of domestication for which the term "pet" seems trivializing.

    Dispatches From the Natural World

  • My family, and a few friends, find the term pet sitter humorous, and a bit extragant.

    News & Record Article Feed

  • Losing a pet is the worst feeling .... don't give up I'm sure she will be found!!

    chien perdu - French Word-A-Day

  • Raising them and keeping one as a pet is a very comparative experience to having a dog.

    Dogs, Pigs and Death | Heretical Ideas Magazine

  • If your pet is a cat, substitute gatito for perrito.

    Traveling with dogs (and cats) in Mexico

  • I feel that having a pet is a much more selfish move, because a pet does not require the same amount of caring as a kid.

    Green Chili Pickle

  • But it's not at all clear, bestiality issues aside, that going through a wedding ritual to a pet is any more wrong than holding a funeral rite for a cat.

    Carry-Over Thread

  • BLITZER: What do you say to the president who spoke about what he called your pet spending projects -- money that has nothing to do with the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but for fishermen, peanut storage, spinach farmers, the milk industry -- that you've attached all this -- this other funding into this legislation, which has nothing do with the emergency spending needed for the war?

    CNN Transcript Mar 23, 2007

  • BLITZER: What do you say to the president who spoke about what he called your pet spending projects, money that has nothing to do with the war in Iraq or Afghanistan, but for fishermen, peanut storage, spinach farmers, the milk industry, that you've attached all this other funding into this legislation which has nothing to do with the emergency spending needed for the war?

    CNN Transcript Mar 23, 2007

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  • Thus was Donna Helena snatched from me. She threw herself into the arms of Combados in a pet, not listening to the secret whispers of love within her breast, nor suspecting a story which ought to have seemed so improbable in the annals of true passion.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 9 ch. 6

    October 8, 2008