Petty vs. Pity: Difference Explained

Petty and pity are homophones with similar pronunciations but distinct meanings. This article will help you readily understand the difference between the two.


Petty is an adjective that describes something unimportant or of little significance. It can also be used to describe someone overly concerned with small, trivial matters. Some common synonyms for petty include insignificant, small-minded, and trivial.


  • I can’t believe she’s still upset about something so petty.
  • Don’t be so petty. It’s not worth getting upset over.
  • He was fired for petty theft.

In these examples, petty describes something of little value or importance. Whether it’s an argument over something small, a disagreement over trivial matters, or a crime that involves stealing something small, petty is used to describe something insignificant.


Pity, on the other hand, is a noun that refers to a feeling of sympathy or sorrow for someone’s misfortune. It can also be used as a verb, meaning to feel sorry for someone or to have compassion for them. Some common synonyms for pity include sorrow, regret, and compassion.


  • I feel so much pity for the families who lost their homes in the hurricane.
  • She looked at him with pity in her eyes.
  • He pitied himself for his failures.

In these examples, pity describes a feeling of sorrow or compassion for someone’s misfortune. Whether it’s feeling sorry for people who lost their homes in a natural disaster, showing compassion for someone going through a difficult time, or feeling sorry for oneself (self-pity), pity is used to describe a sorrowful, regretful state of mind.

Key Differences

The main difference between petty and pity is that petty refers to something of minor importance, while pity refers to a feeling of sympathy or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. Another key difference is that petty is typically used as an adjective, while pity is typically used as a noun or a verb.

It’s important to note that these two words are not interchangeable.

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