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

Definition of petty

 (Entry 1 of 2)

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


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

Definition of Petty (Entry 2 of 2)

Sir William 1623–1687 English political economist

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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

Adjective a petty argument about grammar My behavior was petty and stupid. I apologize.
Recent Examples on the Web: Adjective His petty defamers shamefully cast it as a partisan attack on Mr. Obama. Ron Dermer, WSJ, 11 June 2021 The page was created Aug. 29, 2019 after members of other local groups suggested that Cumberland’s silliest and most petty commenters take their act away from serious discussions., 9 June 2021 The events in San Antonio and Asheboro revealed petty officials more concerned with protocols than their students’ joy. Elaine Ayala, San Antonio Express-News, 9 June 2021 That effectively set a $2,500 threshold to forfeit property, which in turn deterred agencies from petty-ante seizures. Nick Sibilla, Forbes, 8 June 2021 But this insistence on equity extends far beyond insulting slights and petty comments. Sadiya Ansari,, 31 May 2021 The corruption ranges from petty bribes to a complex Ponzi scheme where many politicians have a stake in banks that provided loans to the state at sky high interest rates to rebuild Lebanon’s infrastructure after the civil war. Salma Abdelaziz, CNN, 28 May 2021 From there, Patience has a lovely time foiling heists and enacting petty revenge against people who have slighted her, including Hedare. Muna Mire, Vulture, 26 May 2021 Cruella is never more galvanizing than its petty tit-for-tat and power-wrangling. K. Austin Collins, Rolling Stone, 26 May 2021

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.

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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

Time Traveler

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

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Statistics for petty

Last Updated

14 Jun 2021

Cite this Entry

“Petty.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 Jun. 2021.

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More Definitions for petty



English Language Learners Definition of petty

: not very important or serious
: relating to things that are not very important or serious
: committing crimes that are not very serious


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

More from Merriam-Webster on petty

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for petty

Nglish: Translation of petty for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of petty for Arabic Speakers


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