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illustration Cavil



Part of speech: verb

Origin: French, 16th century


Make petty or unnecessary objections.

Examples of Cavil in a sentence

"My mother is quick to express satisfaction with home renovations, while my father likes to cavil with contractors about minor issues."

"I thought my wife was caviling about the price of the computer, but the competitor listed it at $500 less, and she saved us a lot of money by asking for a price-match."

About Cavil

“Cavil” comes from the Old French “caviller,” meaning “to mock” or “jest,” from the Latin “cavilla,” meaning “banter in jest.”

Did you Know?

To “cavil” is to engage in an argument that borders on bad faith. It may be an argument made in good faith, but over trivialities or petty concerns few others take seriously. In the 17th century, Dr. Samuel Johnson defined the verb as “raising frivolous objections.” Unfortunately, frivolity is in the mind of the speaker; often a person who chooses to cavil feels they are making a significant argument concerning a subject of importance to them. Caviling ultimately results in an argument that few but the person making it believe is worth their time or trouble.

illustration Cavil

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