pettifoggery


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pet·ti·fog·ger

 (pĕt′ē-fŏg′ər, -fô′gər)
n.
1. A lawyer whose practice involves petty matters or who lacks sound legal judgment or skills.
2. One who quibbles over trivia.

[Probably petty + obsolete fogger, pettifogger (probably akin to obsolete German Fugger, successful merchant, usurer, huckster, after the House of Fugger).]

pet′ti·fog′ v.
pet′ti·fog′ger·y n.
American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
ThesaurusAntonymsRelated WordsSynonymsLegend:
Noun1.pettifoggery - a quarrel about petty pointspettifoggery - a quarrel about petty points  
dustup, quarrel, run-in, wrangle, row, words - an angry dispute; "they had a quarrel"; "they had words"
Based on WordNet 3.0, Farlex clipart collection. © 2003-2012 Princeton University, Farlex Inc.
References in periodicals archive ?
Nor would an unfair or corrupt court system have permitted three decades of pettifoggery and a farrago of appeals, for instance, on behalf of the obviously guilty Jamal and Peltier.
The horizons of investment and enterprise shrink in an economy where finance is freed from the constraints of time and entrepreneurs are shackled by governmental pettifoggery.
(Regarding a Sunday Purim carnival, he writes: "Technically, Purim had fallen on a Friday that year, but due to some Sabbath pettifoggery and the city of Baltimore not having been walled during the time of Joshua, it was to be celebrated today.") Most of all, they'll enjoy Moonglow's grappling with moral ambiguity, even as it disturbs them.
The alternative is litigation and its bedfellows--bluff, pettifoggery, and strife.").
After lambasting them as pettifoggers, Walsh was approached by one of them--a Cornelius Terhune--who asked that the masters of pettifoggery not be lumped together with the amateurs.
Rather than challenging the marriage of the university and the capitalist class or fighting for the emancipation of the oppressed worldwide through pedagogies of liberation that have a transnational reach, class antagonisms are universally normalized through the performative pettifoggery, the aerosol spray sophistry, the pseudo-profundities, the convulsions and casuistries of political disengagement and the vertigo-inducing terminology that has distinguished these disquieting hellions of the lecture hall over the past few decades--not to mention their dismissal of class struggle in favor of questions of ethnicity, race, gender and sexuality.
After 36 years since the Bakke case, years of endless pettifoggery -- parsing exactly how many spoonfuls of racial discrimination are permitted in exactly which circumstance -- the court has its epiphany: Let the people decide.
All that pettifoggery was rendered moot on the evening of November 7, when the president kinda-sorta apologized for misleading the country.
For example, "Scott Sumner's general views on macroeconomics are so much in harmony with my own that, in commenting on the present essay, I'm hard pressed to steer clear of the Scylla of fulsomeness without being drawn into a Charybdis of pettifoggery" (Selgin, 2009).