- The definition of a cavil is a silly or petty objection.
An example of a cavil is little girl's rejection of a Barbie doll because of the color of the clothes.
- Cavil means to disapprove for minor reasons.
An example of cavil is a mother rejecting her son's date because she doesn't like her shoes.
intransitive verbcaviled or cavilled, caviling or cavilling
Origin of cavilOld French caviller ; from Classical Latin cavillari ; from cavilla, jeering ; from an unverified form calvilla ; from calvari, to deceive; akin to calumnia, calumny
verbcav·iled, cav·il·ing, cav·ils also cav·illed or cav·il·ling
Origin of cavilFrench caviller, from Old French, from Latin cavillārī, to jeer, from cavilla, a jeering.
From Old French caviller (“mock”, “jest”, “rail”), from Latin cavillor (“jeer, mock, satirise, reason captiously”), from cavilla (“jeering”, “raillery”, “scoffing”); cognate with Italian cavillare, Portuguese cavillar, and Spanish cavilar; nominal usage developed within English from the original verbal usage.