petulant

adjective
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

Keep scrolling for more

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
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

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 The kit had come from a website that specialized in snarky, subversive patterns, ideal for those among us still in touch with his or her petulant inner child. Sheila Marikar, ELLE Decor, "An Ode to the Perverse Pleasure of Needlepoint," 6 Sep. 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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about petulant

Listen to Our Podcast about petulant

Dictionary Entries near petulant

petty whin

petulance

petulancy

petulant

petun

petune

petunia

Statistics for petulant

Last Updated

9 Apr 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for petulant

The first known use of petulant was in 1598

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for petulant

petulant

adjective

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

petulant

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

Kids Definition of petulant

: often in a bad mood : cross

Keep scrolling for more

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

Comments on petulant

What made you want to look up petulant? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).

WORD OF THE DAY

marked by a state of overwhelming emotion

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Words from Greek and Latin Quiz

  • roman forum
  • Which of the following months comes from a Latin word for “ten”?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!

TAKE THE QUIZ
Word Winder's CrossWinder

Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

TAKE THE QUIZ
Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!