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Many times on this site have I heard something described as a 'peeve'. My sense is that this is American.

Although the verb, usually in the passive - he was peeved because he had been given the wrong change, and refused to visit the shop again - exists in Britain, I have seldom heard it used as a noun.

The usual term in Britain I would have said was a 'gripe'. Is a 'peeve' the same thing as a 'gripe'?

Nonetheless I think both expressions are over-the-top for the examples which sometimes appear here. I would tend to call most of them 'pet dislikes'. I think 'peeve' or 'gripe' places too strong a negative sense upon them. A normal healthy mind has likes and dislikes. Dislikes do not have to be justified. In most English-speaking lands people are free to state their preferences.

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A peeve is a frequently-felt irritation. Many people cherish them, whence the phrase my pet peeve. In the context of language use, a peeve refers to a habit of others' speech (never of one's own speech) that someone finds irritating. Such habits are always incorrectly perceived (see "zombie rules"), but that never seems to assuage the peeve itself, which is lovingly trotted out at every opportunity. The common term for the activity of language peeving (and its result) is peevage, the agentive form is peever, and the mass term for peevers is the Peeververein. –  John Lawler Aug 25 at 17:15
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@JohnLawler 'Peeve' is actually a stronger word than would normally be used in Britain for this. At least that is my sense. I would be interested to hear what others think. Sometimes people will talk about their 'pet hates'. 'Hate' is also a strong word. But it doesn't (to me) carry any implied sense that you would like to 'get even' with the thing that is peeving you. As someone once observed, we are two nations separated by a common language. –  WS2 Aug 25 at 17:21
    
I find peeve to be a very weak word, in the sense that a peeve is something that you dislike but it's so stupid a thing to dislike that it's verging on an OCD type behaviour; like getting annoyed when someone puts fruit in the vegetable drawer of the fridge or stands an upside-down ketchup bottle right-way up. Even weaker (but more persistent) than a whinge and a lot less rational. –  Frank Aug 25 at 17:46
    
@Frank In a sense you make my point for me. So if someone says one of my posts is a 'peeve', are they thinking that I suffer from OCD? –  WS2 Aug 25 at 17:51
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I'm not in the UK - things is different. Our cows don't do milk, they just do more cows; so they only get eaten when they stop producing. It's not so bad, an 8hr soak in papaya juice and a soak in couple of bottles of beer for me and I can imagine it's Kobe. Maybe I should take that up as a pet peeve 'Why can't I buy veal?' I think that's more of a gripe than a peeve. –  Frank Aug 25 at 19:18

2 Answers 2

John Lawler illustrates peeve nicely. Per his comment:

A peeve is a frequently-felt irritation. Many people cherish them, whence the phrase my pet peeve. In the context of language use, a peeve refers to a habit of others' speech (never of one's own speech) that someone finds irritating. Such habits are always incorrectly perceived (see "zombie rules"), but that never seems to assuage the peeve itself, which is lovingly trotted out at every opportunity.

Dictionary.com suggests that it is an American backformation from peevish. Merriam-Webster suggests nark as a British synonym for peeve, but I can't attest to that.

On the other hand, a gripe is a grumbling complaint. Dictionary.com shows that this is a much older word. Gripe is not particular to British or American English.

These two things are not the same, but they are related. A person may enjoy griping about their favored peeve, for instance. In that case, peeving and griping can overlap. However, peeving can also encompass raging, ranting, eye rolling, snarking, and some types of trolling like flamebaiting. None of these behaviors would be considered griping.

FumbleFingers adds the very important note that peeving includes an implied appeal to authority, whereas griping does not. For instance:

It should be 'ten items or fewer'. That's the rule!

is peeving. Compare this with:

They put the sign in the middle of the aisle, and I crashed right into it. I'm always crashing into things at that store. It's like they don't know how to lay out traffic patterns.

is more like griping.

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+1 for griping about a pet peeve –  Jim Aug 25 at 17:23
    
OED2 says gripe is American (1930's). gripe as a complaint isn't in OED1. Dictionary.com are talking about gripe meaning grip in the older senses. Peeve (or at least Peevish) is old - 1300's - but peeve is 20th century. –  Frank Aug 25 at 17:32
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I'd also add that peeving invariably includes an element of claiming one's position is "correct" according to some higher/objective authority (perhaps simply "logic"). Whereas griping can be simply moaning about something you don't like, or that inconveniences you (regardless of any rights and wrongs). –  FumbleFingers Aug 25 at 17:45
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@WS2: I don't really think "stronger/weaker" is particularly relevant to peeving, griping, moaning, complaining, grouching, grousing, grumbling, etc. To me, the primary difference between peeving and all the others is the "appeal to a higher authority" as already mentioned. And the fact that to peeve invariably means to criticise what someone else does (especially in matters of language use), in contexts where by implication whoever accuses you of peeving does not accept whatever "authority" you're appealing to for backup. You can gripe about having "bad luck", but not peeve about it. –  FumbleFingers Aug 25 at 17:55
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@Frank: That's my pet peeve of all time! I can't stand people who bite all the way across the KitKat! I know they only do it so if I ask for a stick they'll say "Too late! I've already started eating them all". Worse than people in the pub who leave a note on their beer when they go for a piss, saying "Don't drink my beer - I spat in it". Worse even than the people who leave another note saying "So did I!". Worse even than the ones who say "I pissed in my beer!". –  FumbleFingers Aug 25 at 18:26

One does not necessarily express a 'peeve', and in fact one may be likely to act out ones annoyance instead. That is one way of being 'peevish'. A 'gripe' is something expressed.

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I don't know, I think one can "have a gripe", yet not express it. That's why you can literally say "I have a gripe with you."; before you said those words, you still had the gripe. –  Dan Bron Aug 25 at 17:52
    
I don't think so. Griping is an actual expression. You can have a gripe that you need to make, and not yet have gotten to making it, but if you never do, it wasn't griping. I can have a word for you as well, but, if I do not get to deliver it, it is not really a word. –  Jon Jay Obermark Aug 25 at 17:54
    
Of course the verb "to gripe" (and the gerund "griping"), as a verb, requires action. But the noun "a gripe", an inert object, does not. Similarly for gripe's synonyms, "complaint" and "grievance"; one must act to complain; but can have a complaint without acting (cf grieve vs grievance). You may have a word for me; but I have a bone to pick with you, which remains, as yet, unpicked. –  Dan Bron Aug 25 at 18:30
    
OK, but the intention is to express it. The intention when peeved is often passive-aggressive non-expression. Griping people are actively annoying. Peevish people are passively touchy instead. –  Jon Jay Obermark Aug 25 at 18:32
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If I have a peeve and I think you should hear about it, I'll say, "that's one of my peeves" or "that's a pet peeve of mine" (a very idiomatic phrase in my part of the world). –  Kristina Lopez Aug 25 at 18:35

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