pettifog

Definitions

  • WordNet 3.6
    • v pettifog argue over petty things "Let's not quibble over pennies"
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Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • v. t Pettifog To advocate like a pettifogger; to argue trickily; as, to pettifog a claim.
    • v. i Pettifog To do a petty business as a lawyer; also, to do law business in a petty or tricky way. "He takes no money, but pettifogs gratis."
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Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
    • pettifog To play the pettifogger; do small business as a lawyer.
    • n pettifog A confusing fog or mist: in allusion to pettifog, v.
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Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • v.i Pettifog to play the pettifogger
    • ***

Etymology

Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
Petty, + fog, to pettifog
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
Petty, and obs. fog, to cheat (cf. Old Dut. focker).

Usage

In literature:

Marius, my boy, you are a Baron, you are rich, don't go to pettifogging, I beg of you.
"Les Misérables Complete in Five Volumes" by Victor Hugo
There are districts where the pettifogging man of business, known as Lawyer So-and-So, is still to be found.
"Cousin Pons" by Honore de Balzac
Their President is a low person, and all their ideas of government are pettifogging.
"Mr. Scarborough's Family" by Anthony Trollope
There are districts where the pettifogging man of business, known as Lawyer So-and-So, is still to be found.
"Poor Relations" by Honore de Balzac
This was characteristic pettifogging.
"John Knox and the Reformation" by Andrew Lang
Then what is all your pettifogging about technicalities worth?
"The Life and Work of Susan B. Anthony (Volume 1 of 2)" by Ida Husted Harper
The honorable profession of law dwindled into pettifogging tricks.
"The Memories of Fifty Years" by William H. Sparks
Had Scotland resisted tyranny without this would-be biblical pettifogging Covenant, her condition would have been the more gracious.
"A Short History of Scotland" by Andrew Lang
What the devil do I care for your pettifogging bones?
"News from the Duchy" by Sir Arthur Thomas Quiller-Couch
I said that you were a pettifogging rascal.
"Can You Forgive Her?" by Anthony Trollope
He pettifogs with his witnesses to establish his theory.
"Continental Monthly , Vol. 5, No. 6, June, 1864" by Various
Why, my dear sir, I have known him as a pettifogging money-lender in India for years.
"Roger Ingleton, Minor" by Talbot Baines Reed
But Fom was never known to lie; she only pettifogged.
"The Madigans" by Miriam Michelson
The issues involved are too big and far-reaching for pettifogging methods.
"The Root of Evil" by Thomas Dixon
It was just as well not to have a pettifogging lawyer to deal with.
"The Slave of Silence" by Fred M. White
He had better return to California and to his pettifogging.
"Diary from November 12, 1862, to October 18, 1863" by Adam Gurowski
The old procureur and his president applied all their pettifogging cunning to lowering the debate.
"History of the Commune of 1871" by P. Lissagary
As squire he was a failure, for he had a pettifogging mind.
"Golden Face" by Bertram Mitford
He assailed Mr. Gladstone's financial policy one night, and said it was like the practice of a pettifogging attorney.
"Modern Leaders: Being a Series of Biographical Sketches" by Justin McCarthy
In such a community pettifogging was of no avail.
"Satan Sanderson" by Hallie Erminie Rives
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In poetry:

"But if I broke asunder all such pettifogging bounds,
And forged a party's Will for (say) Five Hundred Thousand Pounds,
With such an irresistible temptation to a haul,
Of course the sin must be infinitesimally small.
"Mister William" by William Schwenck Gilbert