pet·​ty | \ ˈpe-tē How to pronounce petty (audio) \
pettier; pettiest

Definition of petty

1 : having secondary rank or importance : minor, subordinate
2 : having little or no importance or significance
3 : marked by or reflective of narrow interests and sympathies : small-minded

Other Words from petty

pettily \ ˈpe-​tə-​lē How to pronounce petty (audio) \ adverb
pettiness \ ˈpe-​tē-​nəs How to pronounce petty (audio) \ noun

Examples of petty in a Sentence

a petty argument about grammar My behavior was petty and stupid. I apologize.
Recent Examples on the Web Drake is a petty Scorpio, according to the followers of Comments by Celebs. Alexis Gaskin, Glamour, 5 May 2022 Seth Rollins was being petty with his appreciation night in response to Randy Orton’s 20-year Anniversary. Alfred Konuwa, Forbes, 3 May 2022 The sport has also set aside it’s routine (and petty) promoter-broadcaster squabbles by striking a deal to have two major fights this weekend air in succession rather than simultaneously. Lance Pugmire, USA TODAY, 30 Apr. 2022 This vision of progress juxtaposes oddly with the first part of the book, which describes how previous attempts at diverse democracy all apparently devolved into petty and violent wreckage. Washington Post, 29 Apr. 2022 Sheriff Villanueva just showed the world the petty emptiness behind his bluster. Justin Raystaff Writer, Los Angeles Times, 28 Apr. 2022 Full moons are unpredictable, so, on a bad day, this could mean petty bickering within your friend group. Sophie Saint Thomas, Allure, 25 Apr. 2022 Power structures were in flux, with petty lords calling themselves kings; sailing far and wide in search of plunder, trade routes or fertile agricultural land; and often losing power to internal feuds. Matthew Gabriele, Smithsonian Magazine, 22 Apr. 2022 Their memoirs are full of stories of the longtime Russian President’s intentional delays, direct insults, petty affronts, and even menace by a dog. Philip Elliott, Time, 20 Apr. 2022 See More

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

First Known Use of petty

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for petty

Middle English pety small, minor, alteration of petit

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Time Traveler for petty

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The first known use of petty was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

9 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Petty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 19 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for petty


pet·​ty | \ ˈpe-tē How to pronounce petty (audio) \
pettier; pettiest

Kids Definition of petty

1 : small and of no importance Don't worry about the petty details.
2 : showing or having a mean narrow-minded attitude

Other Words from petty

pettiness \ ˈpe-​tē-​nəs \ noun


pet·​ty | \ ˈpe-tē How to pronounce petty (audio) \

Legal Definition of petty

: relatively minor in degree a petty offense punishable by not more than six months in prison — compare grand

Petty biographical name

Pet·​ty | \ ˈpe-tē How to pronounce Petty (audio) \

Definition of Petty

Sir William 1623–1687 English political economist

More from Merriam-Webster on petty

Nglish: Translation of petty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of petty for Arabic Speakers


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