cavil

verb
cav·​il | \ ˈka-vəl How to pronounce cavil (audio) \
caviled or cavilled; caviling or cavilling\ ˈka-​və-​liŋ How to pronounce cavilling (audio) , ˈkav-​liŋ \

Definition of cavil

intransitive verb

: to raise trivial and frivolous objection The author caviled about the design of the book's cover.

transitive verb

: to raise trivial objections to He caviled the conditions of the agreement.

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Other Words from cavil

cavil noun
caviler or caviller \ ˈka-​və-​lər How to pronounce caviller (audio) , ˈkav-​lər \ noun

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."

Examples of cavil in a Sentence

I don't intend to cavil or compromise. A customer caviled about the price.

First Known Use of cavil

1542, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense

History and Etymology for cavil

Latin cavillari to jest, cavil, from cavilla raillery; akin to Latin calvi to deceive — more at calumny

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Time Traveler for cavil

Time Traveler

The first known use of cavil was in 1542

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Cite this Entry

“Cavil.” The Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/caviled. Accessed 21 November 2019.

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More Definitions for cavil

cavil

verb
How to pronounce cavil (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of cavil

formal : to complain about things that are not important

More from Merriam-Webster on cavil

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for cavil

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with cavil

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