Definitions

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

  • adj. Ill-tempered; peevish.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. bad-tempered; peevish

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Fretful; peevish; moody; capricious; inclined to ill temper.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Proceeding from or pertaining to a pet or peevish humor; fretful; peevish; subject to freaks of ill temper.
  • Synonyms Peevish, Fretful, etc. See petulant.

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

  • adj. easily irritated or annoyed

Etymologies

Probably from pet2.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)

Examples

  • "Becoming George Sand" offers sketchy vignettes of Sand's excursion to Mallorca with the pettish and ailing composer Frédéric Chopin, but these scenes shed no light on Maria's problems, which are based not on passion but on lying.

    Trying to Keep Parallel Narratives on the Rails

  • He thinks her little pettish ways are mere girlish moods; but when she becomes his wife, and reveals her selfish and cruel nature, he is grieved and hurt to think fate has been so unkind to him.

    Archive 2008-11-01

  • She had known for some time her brother was weak, that what her aunt had called innocence was really spoiled pettish childishness; that being a boy, the firstborn, and beautiful, Nate had always been the prince of his own tiny kingdom.

    Clockwork Angel

  • With success came pressure, and it appears Henry could be pettish, as his correspondence often apologizes for being short-tempered, possibly because he and Belasco were now going away to get most of their work done and Beatrice felt left out.

    Empire of Dreams

  • Rachel found Katherine, pettish from imagined neglect.

    Dearly Beloved

  • Raglan's face lengthened, and I saw an almost pettish set to his mouth as he said:

    The Sky Writer

  • And he emerged from his prison the same spoiled, pettish rich kid, having tantrums, dumping his non-glossy crippled wife, etc., etc.

    A Word On McCain's Heroism And His Speech Tonight

  • He was a spoiled, pettish rich kid who worked mightily to destroy millions of dollars worth of equipment in the years before he was captured.

    A Word On McCain's Heroism And His Speech Tonight

  • The Lady Fleming restricted her notice to the most dry and distant expressions of civility, and Catherine Seyton became bitter in her pleasantries, and shy, cross, and pettish, in any intercourse they had together.

    The Abbot

  • He failed in this point, however; for Roland, bred a page from childhood, knew how to assume a sullen pettish cast of countenance, well enough calculated to hide all internal emotions.

    The Abbot

Comments

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  • "Ah! If we could only do what we wished!" her friend Mrs. Forman cries wistfully at one point in the story, thus giving voice … to the straitjacket morality that sentences poor Mr. Lucas to a rancorous and pettish dotage.

    – David Leavitt and Mark Mitchell, "Introduction", in E. M. Forster, Selected Stories, (New York: Penguin, 2001), xvii; discussing Forster's story "The Road from Colonus".

    February 3, 2011