pet·​u·​lant | \ ˈpe-chə-lənt How to pronounce petulant (audio) \

Definition of petulant

1 : insolent or rude in speech or behavior
2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor : peevish

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Other Words from petulant

petulantly adverb

Petulant Has Latin Roots

Petulant is one of many English words that are related to the Latin verb petere, which means "to go to," "to attack," "to seek," or "to request." "Petere" is a relative of the Latin adjective petulans ("impudent"), from which "petulant" was derived. Some other words with connections to "petere" are "compete" and "appetite." "Competere," the Late Latin precursor to "compete," is a combination of the prefix com- and the verb "petere." The joining of ad- and petere led to "appetere" ("to strive after"), and eventually to Latin appetitus, the source of our "appetite." Additional descendants of "petere" are "petition," "perpetual," and "impetus."

Examples of petulant in a Sentence

Oxford's denial of her [Margaret Thatcher's] honorary degree in 1984 was no petulant fluke but an accurate measure of her unpopularity with the whole profession. — Harold Perkin, Times Literary Supplement, 26 June 1992 In the hot, petulant little cockpit she was triumphant—drunk with anger, defiance, and the beginnings of relief. — Sebastian Faulks, Independent on Sunday (London), 25 Nov. 1990 Sometimes, under … rapid-fire questioning, he became petulant and quibbled over words in a way that suggested a close reading of the law. — Frances FitzGerald, New Yorker, 16 Oct. 1989 Mouth petulant but its hardness in it, behind it. Looking at that mouth you felt her teeth in you … — Jayne Anne Phillips, Black Tickets, (1975) 1979 Her tone was petulant and angry. a petulant and fussy man who is always blaming everyone else for his problems
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Recent Examples on the Web

Must-Read Instead of playing baseball, the Rockies and Cubs ruined a perfectly lovely afternoon at the park by acting like petulant children and starting a rock fight. Beanball war! Jeff Bailey, The Denver Post, "Dustin Johnson to win the U.S. Open? He is a favorite this year at Pebble Beach.," 13 June 2019 The petulant pant suit is teaming up with Steven Spielberg, whoever that is, to produce a documentary on the woman suffrage movement. Fox News, "Gutfeld: Be nicer. It will drive your enemies nuts," 5 Aug. 2018 But for this petulant group, another midlife crisis is always lurking around the corner. Andrew R. Chow, New York Times, "What’s on TV Sunday: ‘The Affair’ and ‘Parts Unknown’," 17 June 2018 Ostriches flounced back and forth like petulant ballerinas. Stanley Stewart, Condé Nast Traveler, "Going Off-Grid in Namibia," 21 Dec. 2018 Whether this new season will make up for the first one's problematic treatment of race and petulant, spoiled lead character remains to be seen. Jennifer Ouellette, Ars Technica, "New Iron Fist Season 2 trailer renews our hope for the Netflix series," 17 Aug. 2018 By day two Goodman, up to then a shuffling, silent, and petulant presence slumped at the end of the defense table, had a snap in his step. Kevin Conley, Town & Country, "Too Much Horsepower," 24 Dec. 2012 At the time, a Match Group spokesperson told Recode: This lawsuit is a petulant and meritless response to our patent and trade secret claims. Ashley Carman, The Verge, "Bumble asks court to rule Tinder patents invalid," 27 Sep. 2018 Thora Birch as Dani Dennison Who can forget Max's petulant little sister Dani in her cute witch costume? Vogue, "Where Your Favorite Millennial Halloween Movie Stars Are Now," 23 Oct. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'petulant.' 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 petulant

1598, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for petulant

Latin or Middle French; Middle French, from Latin petulant-, petulans; akin to Latin petere to go to, attack, seek — more at feather

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Dictionary Entries near petulant

petty whin







Statistics for petulant

Last Updated

18 Jun 2019

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Time Traveler for petulant

The first known use of petulant was in 1598

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English Language Learners Definition of petulant

disapproving : having or showing the attitude of people who become angry and annoyed when they do not get what they want


pet·​u·​lant | \ ˈpe-chə-lənt How to pronounce petulant (audio) \

Kids Definition of petulant

: often in a bad mood : cross

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More from Merriam-Webster on petulant

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for petulant

Spanish Central: Translation of petulant

Nglish: Translation of petulant for Spanish Speakers

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showing courage and determination

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