in a pet
Posted: 13 February 2019 02:10 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  395
Joined  2007-02-24

I ran across this phrase in a crossword puzzle today meaning “a fit of sulking or ill humor”. I had never seen or heard it before. The dictionaries I checked indicated it is of unknown origin from the late 16th century. Are there any dictionaries that give better information about its origin?

Posted: 13 February 2019 06:46 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  4119
Joined  2007-02-26

Got to admit I’ve not heard of it, though I have heard of “pettish”, of similar meaning.

OED says “unknown origin” but gives you plenty of options to consider…

Etymology: Origin unknown. Compare the apparent derivative pettish adj., which is first attested earlier.

Perhaps related to pet n.2, in which case pettish adj. may have been formed originally from pet n.2.2; however, a strong argument against is presented by the early geographical distribution of the words, pet n.2 being in early use distinctively Scots and northern English, whereas the present word is found also in the south from its earliest attestations onwards, and pettish adj. is apparently not found in Older Scots.

For a suggestion of an etymology from a spec. sense of French pet pet n.1 see L. Spitzer in Language 26 (1950) 533–8.

pet n.1 = fart
pet n.2.2 = “A person who is indulged, spoiled, or treated as a favourite”, “An indulged, spoiled, or favourite, child.”

Posted: 14 February 2019 09:59 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  1280
Joined  2007-03-01

I had always assumed that both pet (in this sense) and pettish were related to petulant, but apparently not. According to the OED, petulant derives from Middle French and in the mid-16th century meant Immodest or forward in speech or behaviour; wanton, lascivious. Within decades it acquired an obviously-related sense, Impudent, insolent, rude, and by Dr Johnson’s time had acquired the rather different meaning, Exhibiting or prone to peevish impatience or irritability, esp. over trivial matters; childishly sulky or bad-tempered, that it has today. The OED suggest that this last sense was probably influenced by pet in the sense ‘fit of peevishness’

Posted: 14 February 2019 12:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Total Posts:  890
Joined  2013-10-14

I had always assumed that both pet (in this sense) and pettish were related to petulant, but apparently not

I think the only relationship is that they share the same base morpheme pet, as in petulant, impetuous, and that they’re all borrowed from French/Latin.

‹‹ Plimsoll      Quop ››