having or showing a tendency to be small-minded or resentful over trivial matters


US English

UK English

Part of Speech



trivial, small-minded, narrow-minded, trifling, petty-minded, pettish, paltry


big-minded, generous, unselfish, noble

Word Forms

Part of Speech Words
Noun pettinesses, petties, pettiness, petty
Verb None
Adjective petty
Adverb pettily

Example Sentences

  • Despite the gravity of the situation, the politician chose to engage in petty arguments rather than addressing the pressing issues facing the nation.

  • Karen’s constant complaints about minor inconveniences revealed her petty nature and inability to focus on more significant matters.

  • The ongoing feud between the neighboring families escalated into petty disputes over trivial matters, such as property boundaries and noise levels.

  • Mark’s petty behavior, such as intentionally excluding others from social gatherings or making snide remarks, caused tension and animosity among his colleagues.


The word “petty” originated from the Middle English term “petit” meaning “small” or “insignificant.” It is derived from the Old French word “petit” with the same meaning. The suffix “-ty” is added to form an adjective, indicating a characteristic or quality.

The term “petty” is used to describe something of minor importance, significance, or triviality. It refers to actions, behavior, or attitudes that are focused on small, unimportant matters or are excessively concerned with insignificant details. It often implies a narrow-mindedness and a lack of perspective in dealing with issues.

The usage of “petty” can be seen in various contexts. It can describe someone who engages in trivial arguments or holds grudges over minor disagreements. It can also be used to describe actions or behaviors that are mean-spirited, spiteful, or motivated by a desire for revenge over trivial matters. Additionally, it can refer to situations or conflicts that are characterized by a focus on insignificant details rather than addressing more important issues.

The word “petty” can be used both in a literal sense, such as petty theft or petty cash, to refer to small or insignificant amounts. It is also commonly used in a figurative sense to describe attitudes, behaviors, or actions that are considered small-minded, narrow, or lacking in maturity.

Variations of the word “petty” include “pettiness” (noun form), “pettily” (adverb form), and “pettinesses” (plural form). These variations help to convey the idea of smallness, insignificance, or triviality in different contexts.