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Pettifogger is a word that is derived from a surname. We will examine the definition of the word pettifogger, where it came from and some examples of its use in sentences.

A pettifogger is a lawyer or other legal practitioner who handles petty cases or dubious cases. A pettifogger may be one who deals with frivolous cases, or one who uses underhanded or unethical methods in a legal case. Pettifogger may also simply refer to an unscrupulous person. Pettifog is the verb form, and means to quibble or to use underhanded methods in legal matters. Related words are pettifogs, pettifogged, pettifogging. The word pettifogger has an interesting origin. It is derived from the word petty, from the French word petite, meaning small, and Fugger, the name of a notorious family of merchants who lived in Augsburg, Germany in the 1400s-1500s.


He was, in short, a small-town rube lawyer who in a big city “could pass for no more than a facetious pettifogger.” (The Lexington Herald-Leader)

Who knows when an attorney,  counselor or pettifogger might come along armed with subpoenas and gunning for loopholes? (The Hartford Courant)

He described the statement credited to the Governor’s chief media handler as unfortunately, pugnacious in context, pettifogger in tone and tenor and supercilious at best. (The Daily Post Nigeria)

The science of physiognomy, that of detecting character in the face, is by no means an exact one, but we all instinctively resort to it when judging others; and when you look at pictures of Assad you see a weak man, whom you would expect to be a pettifogger rather than a brute. (The Telegraph)

They spin the findings or pettifog the implications. (U.S. News & World Report)