cavil

verb cav·il \ ˈka-vəl \

Definition of cavil

caviled or cavilled; caviling or cavilling play \ˈka-və-liŋ, ˈkav-liŋ\
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.

cavil

noun

caviler

or caviller play \ˈka-və-lər, ˈkav-lər\ noun

cavil was our Word of the Day on 12/22/2015. Hear the podcast!

Examples of cavil in a Sentence

  1. I don't intend to cavil or compromise.

  2. A customer caviled about the price.

Recent Examples of cavil from the Web

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'cavil.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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 and Etymology of cavil

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



CAVIL Defined for English Language Learners

cavil

verb

Definition of cavil for English Language Learners

  • : to complain about things that are not important



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