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Don't be petty

Don't waste your time with trivial things


petty = kleinlich, kleinkariert



"You don't want to appear PETTY when negotiating a salary, even an extra $1,000 makes a difference, especially when you're early on in your career."

(Wall Street Journal)

"But love is blind, and lovers cannot see what PETTY follies they themselves commit."

- William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

Did you


- complaining too much about things which are not important (Don't be so petty!)

- not important and not worth giving attention to (The students complained about the petty rules)

(Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)

Imelda Marcos, wife of former Philippine dictator Ferdinand Marcos, once said, "I get so tired listening to one million dollars here, one million dollars there, it's so PETTY." This was in response to her arrest on charges of corruption and illegally amassing a fortune of up to five billion dollars during her husband's regime (although the conviction was later overturned).

For most people, one million dollars, not to mention five billion, is certainly not "petty cash," a phrase that refers to small amounts of cash kept on hand in a business to make change or to buy small things for the office on short notice. Nor would stealing five billion dollars amount to "petty theft," a legal term for thefts that involve small amounts, generally less than $500.

So what did Mrs. Marcos do with all of that money? According to Time magazine, when she fled the country she left behind 508 evening gowns, 888 handbags, 71 pairs of sunglasses and 1,060 pairs of shoes, much less than the 3,000 originally reported but still not a petty collection.


niggling, narrow-minded, piddling, small-minded, trivial

Practice OWAD in a conversation today:

"They waste a lot of time arguing about PETTY matters."

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