- 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.
(third-person singular simple present cavils, present participle (UK) cavilling or (US) caviling, simple past and past participle (UK) cavilled or (US) caviled)
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.