"You canker blossom!" 3 Shakespearean Insults


[kav-uh l] /ˈkæv əl/
verb (used without object), caviled, caviling or (especially British) cavilled, cavilling.
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), caviled, caviling or (especially British) cavilled, cavilling.
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.
Origin of cavil
1540-50; < Latin cavillārī to jeer, scoff, quibble, verbal derivative of cavilla jesting, banter
Related forms
caviler; especially British, caviller, noun
cavilingly; especially British, cavillingly, adverb
outcavil, verb (used with object), outcaviled, outcaviling or (especially British) outcavilled, outcavilling.
uncaviling, adjective
uncavilling, adjective
1. carp, complain, criticize. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for cavil
  • As a sensitive representation of the music, it was beyond cavil.
  • The critics will doubtless find new reasons to cavil soon enough.
  • If one were to cavil about any aspect of the sushi bar, it would be that the selection could be enlarged.
  • Still, there was little room for cavil in an evening so intelligently conceived and vibrantly executed.
  • If this is the playwright's intention, one cannot cavil.
  • As for the lack of colorful scenery, one does not cavil.
  • Some newspapers will cavil, arguing that without sensation and intrusion they cannot survive.
  • But one claiming the unique and favored position must establish his right thereto beyond doubt or cavil.
  • It is beyond cavil that such alleged violation does not contravene an important matter of public policy.
  • It is beyond cavil, then, that this reason for her termination had nothing whatsoever to do with her gender.
British Dictionary definitions for cavil


verb -ils, -illing, -illed (US) -ils, -iling, -iled
(intransitive; foll by at or about) to raise annoying petty objections; quibble; carp
a captious trifling objection
Derived Forms
caviller, noun
cavilling, adjective
Word Origin
C16: from Old French caviller, from Latin cavillārī to jeer, from cavilla raillery
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cavil

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).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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