petty

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See also: Petty

English[edit]

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Etymology[edit]

From Middle English pety, from Middle French petit, English since the late 14th century. The disparaging meaning developed over the 16th century.

Pronunciation[edit]

Adjective[edit]

petty (comparative pettier or more petty, superlative pettiest or most petty)

  1. (obsolete except in set phrases) Little, small, secondary in rank or importance.
    petty officer, petty cash
    • 1671, John Milton, Samson Agonistes
      Like a petty god I walked about, admired of all.
  2. Insignificant, trifling, or inconsiderable.
    a petty fault
    • 2018 February, Robert Draper, “They are Watching You—and Everything Else on the Planet: Technology and Our Increasing Demand for Security have Put Us All under Surveillance. Is Privacy Becoming just a Memory?”, in National Geographic[1], Washington, D.C.: National Geographic Society, ISSN 0027-9358, OCLC 1049714034, archived from the original on 14 June 2018:
      Later today in Finsbury Park, the cameras would spend hours panning across 35,000 festivalgoers in search of pickpockets, drunken brawlers, and other assorted agents of petty mischief.
  3. Narrow-minded, small-minded.
  4. Begrudging in nature, especially over insignificant matters.
    That corporation is only slightly pettier than they are greedy, and they are overdue to reap the consequences.

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Noun[edit]

petty (plural petties)

  1. (usually in the plural, obsolete) A little schoolboy, either in grade or size.
  2. (now historical) A class or school for young schoolboys.
  3. (dialectal, euphemistic) An outhouse: an outbuilding used as a lavatory.

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