What does petty mean?

Definitions for petty
ˈpɛt ipet·ty

This dictionary definitions page includes all the possible meanings, example usage and translations of the word petty.

Princeton's WordNet

  1. petit larceny, petty larceny, pettyadjective

    larceny of property having a value less than some amount (the amount varies by locale)

  2. junior-grade, lower-ranking, lowly, petty(a), secondary, subalternadjective

    inferior in rank or status

    "the junior faculty"; "a lowly corporal"; "petty officialdom"; "a subordinate functionary"

  3. fiddling, footling, lilliputian, little, niggling, piddling, piffling, petty, picayune, trivialadjective

    (informal) small and of little importance

    "a fiddling sum of money"; "a footling gesture"; "our worries are lilliputian compared with those of countries that are at war"; "a little (or small) matter"; "a dispute over niggling details"; "limited to petty enterprises"; "piffling efforts"; "giving a police officer a free meal may be against the law, but it seems to be a picayune infraction"

  4. petty, small-mindedadjective

    contemptibly narrow in outlook

    "petty little comments"; "disgusted with their small-minded pettiness"


  1. pettyadjective

    (obsolete except in set phrases) little, small, secondary in rank or importance

  2. pettyadjective

    insignificant, trifling, or inconsiderable

    a petty fault

  3. pettyadjective

    narrow-minded, small-minded

  4. Etymology: From petit, English since the late 14th century.

Samuel Johnson's Dictionary

  1. PETTYadjective

    Small; inconsiderable; inferiour; little.

    Etymology: petit, Fr.

    When he had no power;
    But was a petty servant to the state,
    He was your enemy. William Shakespeare, Coriolanus.

    It is a common experience, that dogs know the dog-killer; when, as in time of infection, some petty fellow is sent out to kill the dogs. Francis Bacon, Nat. Hist.

    It importeth not much, some petty alteration or difference it may make. Francis Bacon.

    Will God incense his ire
    For such a petty trespass. John Milton.

    From thence a thousand lesser poets sprung,
    Like petty princes from the fall of Rome. John Denham.

    They believe one only chief and great God, which hath been from all eternity; who when he proposed to make the world, made first other gods of a principal order; and after, the sun, moon and stars, as petty gods. Edward Stillingfleet.

    By all I have read of petty commonwealths, as well as the great ones, it seems to me, that a free people do of themselves divide into three powers. Jonathan Swift.

    Bolonia water’d by the petty Rhine. Addison.

    Can there an example be given, in the whole course of this war, where we have treated the pettiest prince, with whom we have had to deal, in so contemptuous a manner. Jonathan Swift, Miscellanies.


  1. petty

    Petty can generally be defined as showing a small-minded or trivial attitude towards issues or concerns. It refers to engaging in, concerning oneself with, or focusing on insignificant matters that are typically unimportant in the grand scheme of things. Petty can also describe someone who is overly concerned with minor details or seeks to cause unnecessary or spiteful harm to others.

Webster Dictionary

  1. Petty

    little; trifling; inconsiderable; also, inferior; subordinate; as, a petty fault; a petty prince


  1. Petty

    Petty is an unincorporated community in Lamar County, Texas, United States. The Chisum Independent School District serves area students.

Chambers 20th Century Dictionary

  1. Petty

    pet′i, adj. small: of less importance: lower in rank, power, &c.: inconsiderable, insignificant: contemptible.—adv. Pett′ily.—n. Pett′iness.—Petty cash, small sums of money received or paid; Petty larceny (see Larceny); Petty officer, a naval officer with rank corresponding to a non-commissioned officer in the army. [O. Fr. petit.]

Etymology and Origins

  1. Petty

    Provincial for an out-house, because its accommodation is restricted to one person; also called a “Privy,” short for private.

Surnames Frequency by Census Records

  1. PETTY

    According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Petty is ranked #1005 in terms of the most common surnames in America.

    The Petty surname appeared 34,882 times in the 2010 census and if you were to sample 100,000 people in the United States, approximately 12 would have the surname Petty.

    73.4% or 25,614 total occurrences were White.
    20.9% or 7,322 total occurrences were Black.
    2.4% or 837 total occurrences were of Hispanic origin.
    2.1% or 753 total occurrences were of two or more races.
    0.5% or 181 total occurrences were Asian.
    0.5% or 174 total occurrences were American Indian or Alaskan Native.

How to pronounce petty?

How to say petty in sign language?


  1. Chaldean Numerology

    The numerical value of petty in Chaldean Numerology is: 4

  2. Pythagorean Numerology

    The numerical value of petty in Pythagorean Numerology is: 5

Examples of petty in a Sentence

  1. Friday Navy:

    The government will not be dropping premeditated murder charges against Chief Petty Officer Gallagher, despite petty officer Scott's testimony, the credibility of a witness is for the jury to decide.

  2. William Feather:

    The petty economies of the rich are just as amazing as the silly extravagances of the poor.

  3. Michael Czin:

    Some of Christie's closest aides and allies put public safety at risk, seemingly to exact petty political revenge, and in the aftermath, they lied about it, that, in itself, is inexcusable conduct coming from the administration of someone who wants to be President of the United States.

  4. William Shakespeare:

    To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow, Creeps in this petty pace from day to day To the last syllable of recorded time, And all our yesterdays have lighted fools The way to dusty death. Out, out, brief candle Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player That struts and frets his hour upon the stage And then is heard no more it is a tale Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.

  5. Henry David Thoreau:

    Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought. Every man is the lord of a realm beside which the earthly empire of the Czar is but a petty state, a hummock left by the ice.

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Translations for petty

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"petty." Definitions.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2023. Web. 24 Sep. 2023. <https://www.definitions.net/definition/petty>.

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