2 : characterized by temporary or capricious ill humor : peevish
Uncle Harold is a petulant and fussy man who is always blaming everyone else for his problems.
“… this bunch doesn’t care about being reasonable or meeting opposing views halfway. Like petulant toddlers, they want it all right now or they’ll throw a tantrum.” — Kevin Foley, The Marietta (Georgia) Daily Journal, 16 Oct. 2015
Did you know?
Petulant is one of many English words that are related to the Latin verb petere, which means “to go to,” “to attack,” “to seek,” or “to request.” Petere is a relative of the Latin adjective petulans (“impudent”), from which petulant was derived. Some other words with connections to petere are compete and appetite. Competere, the Late Latin precursor to compete, is a combination of the prefix com- and the verb petere. The joining of ad- and petere led to appetere (“to strive after”), and eventually to Latin appetitus, the source of our appetite. Additional descendants of petere are petition, perpetual, and impetus.