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

  • intransitive v. To act like a pettifogger. See Synonyms at quibble.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • v. To quibble over trivial matters; nitpick

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • intransitive v. To do a petty business as a lawyer; also, to do law business in a petty or tricky way.
  • transitive v. To advocate like a pettifogger; to argue trickily.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • To play the pettifogger; do small business as a lawyer.
  • n. A confusing fog or mist: in allusion to pettifog, v.

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

  • v. argue over petty things


Back-formation from pettifogger.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
Back-formation from pettifogger. (Wiktionary)



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  • I want, against my better judgment, for this word to be pettifrog.

    September 19, 2008

  • The castle, which was our only tangible resource, was unfortunately mortgaged to several creditors, the principal of whom was one Bernard Astuto. Cunning by name, and cunning by nature! He practised as an attorney at Valencia, and bore his faculties in all the infamy of pettifogging; law and equity conspired in his person to push the trade of cozening and swindling to the utmost extremity.

    - Lesage, The Adventures of Gil Blas of Santillane, tr. Smollett, bk 5 ch. 1

    September 19, 2008

  • "Men were strange: it would never have occurred to her that Walter was capable of such baseness, and yet you never knew; perhaps his seriousness was merely a mask for a mean and pettifogging nature."

    - The Painted Veil, W. Somerset Maugham

    September 23, 2007