petty

adjective

pet·​ty ˈpe-tē How to pronounce petty (audio)
pettier; pettiest
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
pettily adverb
pettiness 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 No one feels safe walking the streets, and petty insults are reason enough for someone to start shooting. Charles McNulty, Los Angeles Times, 11 Apr. 2024 Once again, a trial unites some of the series' most memorable minor characters in an indictment of the protagonist's selfish, petty behavior. Judy Berman, TIME, 8 Apr. 2024 For five minutes the worship space rattles and howls like a shuttle booster rocket, and after a palm-punishing standing ovation, this petty life resumes. Jonathan Rowe, SPIN, 4 Apr. 2024 From a satire on petty Hialeah politics to a meditation on gentrification in Little Haiti to an homage for the Miami Shores woman who pioneered the selfie, more and more filmmakers are telling stories by Miami for Miami. Amanda Rosa, Miami Herald, 3 Apr. 2024 The leader of the British crew had reacted to this petty crime by shooting not only the thief but also a second Māori man. Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, 1 Apr. 2024 Nelson, Parton and Martell are the guiding voices on the 27-track, 80-minute-long narrative complete with swift, petty one-liners and fresh takes on centuries-old sounds. Thania Garcia, Variety, 29 Mar. 2024 Their petty Bolshevism is a showbiz variant on power-madness but without a clear ideological agenda. Armond White, National Review, 29 Mar. 2024 Located in the Fourth District area of Porto Alegre, the institute has started to impact the local economy, Valério said, with new restaurants and bars opening nearby and a significant reduction in petty crimes in the area. Angelica Mari, Forbes, 27 Mar. 2024

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'petty.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Middle English pety small, minor, alteration of petit

First Known Use

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

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

Dictionary Entries Near petty

Cite this Entry

“Petty.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/petty. Accessed 22 Apr. 2024.

Kids Definition

petty

adjective
pet·​ty ˈpet-ē How to pronounce petty (audio)
pettier; pettiest
1
: lesser in rank or importance : minor
a petty prince
2
: having little or no importance or meaning
petty details
3
: having or displaying a mean narrow-minded attitude : small-minded
pettily adverb
pettiness noun
Etymology

Middle English pety "small, minor," an altered form of petit (same meaning), from early French petit "small"

Legal Definition

petty

adjective
pet·​ty ˈpe-tē How to pronounce petty (audio)
: relatively minor in degree
a petty offense punishable by not more than six months in prison
compare grand

Biographical Definition

Petty

biographical name

Pet·​ty ˈpe-tē How to pronounce Petty (audio)
Sir William 1623–1687 English political economist

More from Merriam-Webster on petty

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