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petty + fogger



pettifogger (plural pettifoggers)

  1. Someone who quibbles over trivia, and raises petty, annoying objections and sophistry.
    • 1809, Washington Irving, Knickerbocker's History of New York, ch. 39:
      Hence the cunning measure of appointing as ambassador some political pettifogger skilled in delays, sophisms, and misapprehensions, and dexterous in the art of baffling argument.
  2. An unscrupulous or unethical lawyer, especially one of lesser skill.
    Synonym: shyster
    • 1822, Sir Walter Scott, The Fortunes of Nigel, ch. 11:
      "An inn, or a tavern . . . these are places where greasy citizens take pipe and pot, where the knavish pettifoggers of the law spunge on their most unhappy victims.
    • 1885, The Bay State Monthly, Vol. 3, No. 6:
      . . .yet he has never sought by browbeating and other arts of the pettifogger, to confuse, baffle, and bewilder a witness. . . .
    • 1926 June 28, "National Affairs: Blind Mans Huff," Time:
      "Donald Hughes, well known in Minneapolis as a conscienceless shyster, was placed in charge of the case. . . . Mr. Edgerton, a high class, reputable lawyer, was called in of counsel from another city to lend respectability to the crooked, unprincipled, blackmailing pettifogger, Hughes."

Related terms[edit]