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petit four a small fancy teacake, usu. cut from spongecake, that is frosted on three sides and often decorated.
petition a formal request that is usu. written, often signed by many people, and addressed to an authority that is empowered to grant some right or benefit. [7 definitions]
petit jury a group of twelve citizens selected to witness a civil or criminal trial and empowered to decide, after discussing the evidence and issues presented, whether a defendant is guilty or not. (Cf. grand jury.)
petit larceny see petty larceny.
petit mal a form of epilepsy characterized by unconsciousness for short periods of time, but usu. no convulsions. (Cf. grand mal.)
petit point embroidery done on a canvas backing and resembling woven tapestry. [2 definitions]
petnapping the stealing of pets in order to sell them, as for use in laboratory experiments.
Petrarch an Italian poet; Francesco Petrarca (1304-74).
Petrarchan sonnet an Italian sonnet form made popular by Petrarch, consisting of an octave and a sestet. (Cf. Shakespearean sonnet.)
petrel any of various related sea birds usu. found far from shore, esp. the storm petrel.
petri dish a shallow, round, transparent glass or plastic dish with an overlapping cover, used for culturing bacteria and other microorganisms.
petrify to turn (organic matter) into stone. [4 definitions]
petro- rock; stone. [2 definitions]
petrochemical a chemical derivative of petroleum or natural gas, such as gasoline.
petrodollar (usu. pl.) funds accumulated by an oil-exporting country as part of a surplus in its trade balance, esp. when they are then lent to or invested in other countries.
petroglyph a drawing or carving on rock, esp. from prehistoric times.
petrography the scientific description and classification of rocks.
petrol (chiefly British) a volatile, flammable liquid of hydrocarbons, derived from petroleum and used primarily as fuel for internal-combustion engines; gasoline.
petrolatum a colorless or yellowish, translucent, greasy, semisolid petroleum derivative used as a lubricant and in medical ointments; petroleum jelly.
petroleum a thick, flammable mineral oil obtained by drilling beneath the earth's surface and processed into various fuels and lubricants, naphtha, paraffin, and other products.
petroleum jelly petrolatum.