Definition of petty adjective from the Oxford Advanced Learner's Dictionary



    BrE BrE//ˈpeti//
    ; NAmE NAmE//ˈpeti//
    (usually disapproving) Describing unpleasant traits
    jump to other results
  1. 1[usually before noun] small and unimportant synonym minor petty squabbles petty crime/theft (= that is not very serious) a petty criminal/thief a petty bureaucrat/official (= who does not have much power or authority, although they might pretend to)
  2. 2caring too much about small and unimportant matters, especially when this is unkind to other people synonym small-minded How could you be so petty? See related entries: Describing unpleasant traits
  3. Word Originlate Middle English (in the sense ‘small in size’): from a phonetic spelling of the pronunciation of French petit ‘small’.Extra examples He made his children’s lives a misery with all his petty rules. I don’t want to hear any more about your petty squabbles. Some of the prison officers were petty tyrants. The removal of petty restrictions has made life easier. There are plenty of petty bureaucrats who would report you for that. When these people run out of money, they often turn to petty crime. a petty criminal/​thief/​tyrant petty crime/​theft/​corruption/​tyranny petty squabbles/​jealousies/​feuds
See the Oxford Advanced American Dictionary entry: petty