verb (used without object), cav·iled, cav·il·ing or (especially British) cav·illed, cav·il·ling.
- to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually followed by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
verb (used with object), cav·iled, cav·il·ing or (especially British) cav·illed, cav·il·ling.
- to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
- a trivial and annoying objection.
- the raising of such objections.
verb -ils, -illing or -illed or US -ils, -iling or -iled
- (intr; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
- a captious trifling objection
1540s, from Middle French caviller “to mock, jest,” from Latin cavillari “to jeer, mock; satirize, argue scoffingly” (also source of Italian cavillare, Spanish cavilar), from cavilla “jest, jeering,” related to calumnia (see calumny).