petty (adj.)

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.

updated on October 30, 2020

Definitions of petty from WordNet
petty (adj.)
inferior in rank or status;
petty officialdom
Synonyms: junior-grade / lower-ranking / lowly / secondary / subaltern
petty (adj.)
(informal) small and of little importance;
limited to petty enterprises
Synonyms: fiddling / footling / lilliputian / little / niggling / piddling / piffling / picayune / trivial
petty (n.)
larceny of property having a value less than some amount (the amount varies by locale);
Synonyms: petit larceny / petty larceny
Etymologies are not definitions. From, not affiliated with etymonline.