pettifogger
pettifogger 1560s, from PETTY (Cf. petty); the second element possibly from obs. Du. focker, from Flem. focken "to cheat," or from cognate M.E. fugger, from Fugger the renowned family of merchants and financiers of 15c.-16c. Augsburg. In German, Flemish and Dutch, the name became a word for "monopolist, rich man, usurer."
A 'petty Fugger' would mean one who on a small scale practices the dishonourable devices for gain popularly attributed to great financiers; it seems possible that the phrase 'petty fogger of the law,' applied in this sense to some notorious person, may have caught the popular fancy. [O.E.D. first edition, in a rare burst of pure speculation]
However, Cf. pettifactor "legal agent who undertakes small cases" (1580s), which, though attested slightly later, may be the source of this.

Etymology dictionary. 2014.

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  • Pettifogger — Pet ti*fog ger, n. A lawyer who deals in petty cases; an attorney whose methods are mean and tricky; an inferior lawyer. [1913 Webster] A pettifogger was lord chancellor. Macaulay. [1913 Webster] …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • pettifogger — [pet′i fäg΄ər, pet′ifôg΄ər; pet′ēfäg΄ər, pet′ēfôg΄ər] n. 〚 PETTY + obs. fogger < ?〛 1. a lawyer who handles petty cases, esp. one who uses unethical methods in conducting trumped up cases 2. a trickster; cheater 3. a quibbler; caviler pettifog …   Universalium

  • pettifogger — a lawyer of little importance and now impliedly, one who is perhaps dubious and who will make small points more for his own gain or pleasure than that of the client. Collins dictionary of law. W. J. Stewart. 2001 …   Law dictionary

  • pettifogger — [pet′i fäg΄ər, pet′ifôg΄ər; pet′ēfäg΄ər, pet′ēfôg΄ər] n. [ PETTY + obs. fogger < ?] 1. a lawyer who handles petty cases, esp. one who uses unethical methods in conducting trumped up cases 2. a trickster; cheater 3. a quibbler; caviler pettifog …   English World dictionary

  • pettifogger — noun Etymology: probably from petty + obsolete English fogger pettifogger Date: 1576 1. a lawyer whose methods are petty, underhanded, or disreputable ; shyster 2. one given to quibbling over trifles • pettifogging adjective or noun •… …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • pettifogger — noun /ˈpɛtɪˌfɒɡə,ˈpɛtɪˌfɑːɡɚ,ˈpɛtɪˌfɔːɡɚ/ a) Someone who quibbles over trivia, and raises petty, annoying objections. , 1885: …yet he has never sought by browbeating and other arts of the pettifogger, to confuse, baffle, and bewilder a witness…… …   Wiktionary

  • pettifogger — Synonyms and related words: Philadelphia lawyer, ambulance chaser, belittler, bunco artist, bunco steerer, captious critic, cardsharp, cardsharper, carper, carpetbagger, caviler, censor, censurer, common scold, con artist, con man, confidence man …   Moby Thesaurus

  • pettifogger — (Roget s IV) n. Syn. inferior lawyer, trickster, shyster, mouthpiece*; see cheat 1 , lawyer , rascal …   English dictionary for students

  • pettifogger — pet·ti·fog·ger || petɪfÉ‘gÉ™(r) / fÉ’ n. cheater, swindler, one who defrauds …   English contemporary dictionary

  • pettifogger — noun archaic an inferior legal practitioner. Origin C16: from petty + obs. fogger underhand dealer , prob. from Fugger, the name of a family of merchants in Augsburg in the 15th and 16th cents …   English new terms dictionary

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