verb, -iled, -il⋅ing or (especially British) -illed, -il⋅ling; noun
-verb (used without object) 1. to raise irritating and trivial objections; find fault with unnecessarily (usually fol. by at or about): He finds something to cavil at in everything I say.
–verb (used with object) 2. to oppose by inconsequential, frivolous, or sham objections: to cavil each item of a proposed agenda.
–noun 3. a trivial and annoying objection.
4. the raising of such objections.
1540–50; < L cavillārī to jeer, scoff, quibble, v. deriv. of cavilla jesting, banter
He invoked these values up front in an attempt to make his recommendations invulnerable to criticism and cavilling by politicians and interest groups.
--Frontier Centre for Public Policy, Ten Myths about Canadian Medicare