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Petty is an English adjective generally used to describe a small-minded person focused on trivial matters as a point of hostility or contention. The word spiked popularity in 2016 on Black Twitter, where it became frequently associated with a series of reaction images, generally of someone giving a close-mouthed smile.
According to Merriam-Webster, petty comes from the Middle English word "pety," an alteration of petit, meaning small or minor, first used in the 14th century. 
On June 8th, 2005, Urban Dictionary user Little Lauren defined "petty" as, "When someone takes a small subject and blows it out of proportion."
On February 16th, 2016, the Twitter account Meninist posted a tweet stating "when you brought your A game to the argument and now your girl over there crying" above a photo of famed Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, Kobe Bryant, sitting in a chair with a smug smile, and the Larry O’Brien trophy, which is given to the NBA Finals winning team.  . The post gained more than 3,500 retweets and 10,000 likes.
Petty Kobe Bryant is a reaction image of famed Los Angeles Lakers basketball player, Kobe Bryant, sitting in a chair with a smug smile, and the Larry O’Brien trophy, which is given to the NBA Finals winning team. The photo gained popularity on Black People Twitter, along with other reaction images, similar to Petty Skai Jackson, and ‘New York’ in a bed.
On February 16th, 2016, popular Twitter account, @Meninist, posted a tweet stating "when you brought your A game to the argument and now your girl over there crying." The post gained more than 3,500 retweets and 10,000 likes.
On April 4th, 2016, the actress Skai Jackson tweeted a photo of herself waiting in the green room of the New York City Fox affiliate before an appearance on the morning news show Good Day New York. The tweet received more than 2,700 retweets and 4,800 likes.
The image became popular used in combination with dialogues or descriptions of social interactions illustrating common acts of pettiness and pretentiousness driven by perfectionism, particularly within the Black Twitter community.
On November 9th, 2016, Republican candidate Donald Trump was projected to receive over the 270 electoral votes needed to become president-elect of the United States. The following day, Twitter user Mollie Goodfellow posted a photograph of Joe Biden peering out the window captioned with a mock dialogue in which the vice president threatens to assault Donald Trump (shown below, left). Two hours later, Goodfellow tweeted a picture of Biden holding captioned with a scheme to throw the ball at Trump (shown below, right). Over the next four days, the tweets gained over 93,000 and 100,000 likes respectively.
On February 2nd, 2017, Vice published an article about the meaning of the many meanings of the word. In the article, Anne H. Charity Hudley, associate professor of linguistics and Africana studies at the College of William and Mary, ""[Now], it's kind of a noun--it's something you do. In [the way that it's being used currently in] Black culture, it's a state of being. You're not being petty, you are petty."
 Twitter – when you brought your A game to the argument and now your girl over there crying
 Good Day New York – "Skai Jackson" http://www.fox5ny.com/good-day/116585767-video
 Twitter – @skaijackson's Tweet
 Twitter – @hansmollman
 Twitter – @hansmollman
 Vice – The Power of 'Petty': How One Small Word Came to Represent Black Resistance
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Apr 15, 2017 at 10:51AM EDT
Apr 14, 2017 at 07:38PM EDT
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