Submitted by derek  •  March 12, 2004

Pet Peeves

Where did the expression “pet peeve” come from?

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Most dictionaries define "peeve" as an "annoyance." "Pet" would refer to something that is a favorite of yours (think about the phrase "teacher's pet."). It's meant ironically in this case to mean the same sort of thing as holding a grudge.

The non-idiomatic meaning of the phrase would be something like "favorite complaint." You wouldn't use it for everything--just for something that PARTICULARLY bothers you.

I'm vaguely guessing from the special way the word "pet" is used that the phrase dates from around 1800 or a bit later. Anyone know for sure?

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