How would you reference an issue that is of little meaning but takes lots of attention for no apparent reason than just being the only thing that is interesting?

I've researched some words such as

  • Petty Fight
  • Bun Fight

Yet I don't feel these dwell well enough with the word I'm looking for.

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    "A storm in a teacup" is a common idiom. Since you don't appear to have done much research, I'll leave you to look up the meaning. – Mick Nov 3 '16 at 20:53
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    Would you accept spat? – deadrat Nov 3 '16 at 21:08
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    @Mick I've always heard "tempest in a teapot" (AmEng, BosWash corridor). "Storm in a teacup" is new to me; where is that used? – ab2 Nov 3 '16 at 21:49
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    @ab2 It's the BrE equivalent. – Mick Nov 3 '16 at 21:56
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    "Spat" or "tiff" describes a small (though possibly heated) disagreement. – Hot Licks Nov 3 '16 at 22:13

In my field we use the word "bikeshed" or "bikeshedding" to describe this -- a reference to Parkinson's law of triviality whereby, for example

...a fictional committee whose job was to approve the plans for a nuclear power plant [spent] the majority of its time on discussions about relatively minor but easy-to-grasp issues, such as what materials to use for the staff bike-shed, while neglecting the proposed design of the plant itself, which is far more important but also a far more difficult and complex task.

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My choice for a single word is "bickering." If you need to stretch it out a bit, say "continuous bickering."

1. to engage in petulant or peevish argument; wrangle: The two were always bickering.


1 Argue about petty and trivial matters. ‘couples who bicker over who gets what from the divorce’


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  • Generally, "bickering" is used to imply an ongoing low-level conflict, vs a short-lived "spat". – Hot Licks Nov 4 '16 at 12:23

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