1707, "body of freemen in a French town," hence, "the French middle class," also extended to that of other countries, from French bourgeois, from Old French burgeis, borjois (12c.) "town dweller" (as distinct from "peasant"), from borc "town, village," from Frankish *burg "city" (ultimately from PIE root *bhergh- (2) "high," with derivatives referring to hills and hill-forts). Communist use for "the capitalist class generally" is attested from 1886.
late 14c., peti, "small, little, minor," from a phonemic spelling of Old French petit "small" (see petit). From late 12c. in surnames. In English, not originally disparaging (as still in petty cash "small sums of money received or paid," 1834; petty officer "minor or inferior military officer," 1570s).
Meaning "of small or minor importance, not serious" is recorded from 1520s; that of "small-minded" is from 1580s. Related: Pettily; pettiness.
French, literally "high," fem. of haut (see haught). Haute bourgeoisie "the (French) upper-middle class" is in English from 1804.
1570s as a verbal noun, "the practice of pettifoggery;" c. 1600 as a present-participle adjective, "petty, mean, paltry, characteristic of a pettifogger;" see pettifogger. A verb pettifog is rare and attested only from 1610s; De Quincey has pettifogulize "to use petty and contemptible means."
"petty author; one who writes carelessly or badly," 1550s, agent noun from scribble (v.).
also nit-pick, "seek petty faults," 1962, a back-formation from earlier nitpicker. Related: Nitpicking (1956); nitpicky.
"self-important petty official," 1856, from the name of the fussy, pompous, stupid beadle in Dickens' "Oliver Twist." Related: Bumbledom.
"petty quarrel," 1804, American English, of unknown origin; perhaps somehow imitative (compare spat "smack, slap," attested from 1823).