Simple Definition of cavil
: to complain about things that are not important
Examples of cavil in a sentence
I don't intend to cavil or compromise.
A customer caviled about the price.
Did You Know?
You must be joking! That's just one of the things you might be tempted to exclaim if you found yourself quarreling with a caviler - and you'd be right, etymologically speaking at least. Cavil derives from the Latin verb cavillari, meaning "to jest" or "to raise silly objections," which in turn derives from the Latin noun cavilla, meaning "raillery." In case you're wondering, "cavil" is not related to the adjective "cavalier" ("marked by or given to offhand and often disdainful dismissal of important matters"). "Cavalier," which is also a noun for a gentleman trained in arms and horsemanship, traces back via Middle French to the Late Latin caballarius, meaning "horseman."
Origin of cavil
Latin cavillari to jest, cavil, from cavilla raillery; akin to Latin calvi to deceive — more at calumny
First Known Use: 1542
Learn More about cavil
Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for "cavil"
Seen and Heard
What made you want to look up cavil? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).