Word of the Week: pettifog (PĔT-ē-fŏg)


(Verb) To act as a pettifogger; to plead or conduct a petty case in a minor court of law, especially with recourse to legal chicanery. Hence, in extended use: to wrangle or quibble about petty points (now the usual sense).

In Context

“The regular channel to the law is to study in a lawyer’s office, sweep out the office for a year or two, be a clerk for a year or two more, then to pettifog in a justice’s court, and slowly and gradually, after being subordinate to everybody, and the older heads have died off, to feel his way as a practicing lawyer.”

James A. Garfield, “My Experience as a Lawyer,” The North American Review, June 1887.