pet·​u·​lant | \ˈpe-chə-lənt \

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

Antonio Cassano Antonio Cassano is one of the most petulant, immature players in football., "6 Players That Never Grew Up," 24 June 2018 Also incredibly arrogant, reckless, unafraid, petulant and unscrupulous. Dylan Hernandez,, "World Cup offers Argentina's Lionel Messi the stage to be on the same level as countryman Diego Maradona," 13 June 2018 This is, alas, the Yahweh of the early Hebrews, a fickle, petulant, seemingly amoral deity whose childish obsession is with proving himself top banana in the pantheon of primitive gods. Sam Sacks, WSJ, "Fiction: A Depraved and Beautiful Dream of the World," 12 July 2018 Beckham's kick looked more petulant than violent, yet the Argentina midfielder tumbled theatrically as if he'd just been shot., "World Cup Countdown: 5 Weeks to Go - England Fall to Argentina Despite Teen Sensation's Wonder Goal," 17 May 2018 The dominant image of the Group of Seven summit in Canada was of Merkel in front of her fellow leaders bearing down on an obviously petulant President Trump, sitting with his arms crossed, his chin jutting out. Alan Crawford,, "As Merkel’s Power Drains, the Threat to Europe Grows," 27 June 2018 Magro played the part of the cheating, immature, and truly cruel cast member — acting like a petulant child and throwing temper tantrums., "The Situation Was The Big Winner Of Jersey Shore: Family Vacation," 29 June 2018 Moods For one thing, James himself was disaffected and petulant before the big trades. Bill Livingston,, "Cleveland Cavaliers 2018: LeBron's triple-double flashback -- Bill Livingston (photos)," 5 Mar. 2018 Trump himself looks like a comically petulant child, and John Bolton, the National Security Advisor, appears to be nervous, staunchly standing by the president. Meagan Fredette,, "What Happened In This Iconic Photo Of Angela Merkel & Donald Trump?," 10 June 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

24 Sep 2018

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Time Traveler for petulant

The first known use of petulant was in 1598

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More Definitions for petulant



English Language Learners Definition of petulant

: 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 \

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

Comments on petulant

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something that serves to warn or remind

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