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pettifogging

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."

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