cavil

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English[edit]

Alternative forms[edit]

  • (17th–18th centuries; verb senses only): cavel, cavell

Etymology[edit]

From Old French caviller (mock”, “jest”, “rail), from Latin cavillor (jeer, mock, satirise, reason captiously), from cavilla (jeering”, “raillery”, “scoffing); cognate with Italian cavillare, Portuguese cavillar, and Spanish cavilar; nominal usage developed within English from the original verbal usage.[1]

Pronunciation[edit]

Verb[edit]

cavil (third-person singular simple present cavils, present participle (UK) cavilling or (US) caviling, simple past and past participle (UK) cavilled or (US) caviled)

  1. (intransitive) To criticise for petty or frivolous reasons.
    • 1598?, William Shakespeare, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Act I, scene I:
      'Tis love you cavil at: I am not Love.
    • 1913, Robert Barr, chapter 5, Lord Stranleigh Abroad[1]:
      Stranleigh found no difficulty in getting a cavalcade together at Bleacher’s station, an amazingly long distance west of New York. A man finds little trouble in obtaining what he wants, if he never cavils at the price asked, and is willing to pay in advance.
    • 1928, D. H. Lawrence, Lady Chatterley's Lover:
      I wish you wouldn't cavil, Hilda.

Synonyms[edit]

Translations[edit]

Noun[edit]

cavil (plural cavils)

  1. A petty or trivial objection or criticism.
    • 1835, Charles G. Finney, Lectures on revivals of religion:
      It is not worth while to spend your time in arguing against a cavil, but make him feel he is committing a sin to plead it, and thus enlist his conscience on your side.

Translations[edit]

References[edit]

  1. 1.0 1.1 cavil, n.” and “cavil, v.” listed in the Oxford English Dictionary, second edition (1989)