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Petite vs. Petit: What's the Difference?

By Janet White & Aimie Carlson || Updated on May 22, 2024
Petite refers to a small and slender body type in women, while petit is a French term meaning "small" or "little" and is used more broadly.

Key Differences

Petite is an English term primarily used to describe women who are small in stature and build. It often refers to clothing sizes designed for women who are 5'4" (162 cm) and under, ensuring a better fit for shorter frames. Petit, on the other hand, is a French word that translates to "small" or "little" in English. It is used in various contexts to describe the size or quantity of something.
While petite is specific to describing women's body types and related clothing sizes, petit is a more general term used to describe smallness in various contexts, often as part of French expressions adopted into English.

Comparison Chart


Small and slender body type (women)
French term meaning "small" or "little"

Common Usage

Women's clothing, body type
General description of size, French expressions

Language Origin


Specific Context

Clothing sizes, describing women
Various contexts (e.g., food, legal terms)


Petite women’s clothing
Petit jury, petit déjeuner

Petite and Petit Definitions


Referring to women’s clothing sizes for shorter frames.
The petite dress fits her perfectly.


Used in legal terms like "petit jury".
The case was decided by a petit jury.


Small and slender body type in women.
She shops in the petite section for better-fitting clothes.


Referring to small size in general.
The petit book was easy to carry around.


Indicative of a small, delicate build.
The model's petite frame was ideal for the fashion show.


French for "small" or "little".
The petit café served the best espresso.


Describing a woman's small stature.
Her petite figure made her look elegant in the gown.


Describing small items or portions.
The chef prepared petit fours for dessert.


Short and slender
This rack of clothing is for petite women.


Part of French expressions in English.
She enjoyed a petit déjeuner at the bistro.


Small in size or scope; tiny
“a bagel that is fairly petite by today's standards” (Ed Levine).


Lesser in seriousness or scale.


A clothing size for short, slender women.


Petite: small, little.


(especially of a woman) fairly short and of slim build.


Petty, in its various senses:


(clothing) of small size.


(obsolete) Few in number.


Small, little; insignificant; petty.


Unimportant; cheap; easily replaced.


Small, little; of a woman or girl, of small size and trim figure.


Small, minor.


A garment size for short or slender women


Secondary; lower in rank.


Very small;
Diminutive in stature
A lilliputian chest of drawers
Her petite figure
Tiny feet
The flyspeck nation of Bahrain moved toward democracy


A little schoolboy.


Suitable for women under 5'4".
The petite blazer had shorter sleeves for a better fit.


A kind of pigeon.


Synonym of brevier.


Small; little; insignificant; mean; - Same as Petty.
By what small, petit hints does the mind catch hold of and recover a vanishing notion.


What does petite mean in clothing?

Petite refers to a category of clothing designed for women who are 5'4" (162 cm) and under, with adjusted proportions for a better fit.

What is the origin of the word petite?

Petite comes from French, where it means "small," but in English, it specifically describes small and slender body types in women.

Is petite always related to height?

Petite primarily relates to height but also implies a slender build.

What is a petit jury?

A petit jury, also known as a trial jury, is a group of citizens who determine the facts and render a verdict in a trial.

Can men be described as petite?

Typically, petite is used to describe women. For men, terms like "small" or "slender" are more commonly used.

How is petit used in English?

Petit is used in English often within phrases borrowed from French, such as "petit jury" or "petit déjeuner."

What does petit déjeuner mean?

Petit déjeuner is French for "breakfast," literally translating to "little lunch."

Can petite describe other things besides women?

In English, petite is mainly used to describe women or women’s clothing, not other objects.

Is petit commonly used in everyday English?

Petit is less common in everyday English and is mostly found in specific phrases or contexts.

Are petite clothing sizes different in fit?

Yes, petite clothing sizes have shorter lengths and adjusted proportions to fit shorter women better.

Can you use petite to describe children?

Petite is generally used for adult women. For children, terms like "small" or "little" are more appropriate.

Do other languages use petite similarly to English?

Other languages may use petite in ways similar to its French origin, meaning "small."

What adjustments are made in petite clothing?

Petite clothing has shorter sleeves, inseams, and torso lengths to fit shorter women better.

How do you pronounce petit?

Petit is pronounced as "puh-TEE" in English, similar to the French pronunciation.

Can petite sizes fit tall women?

Petite sizes are not typically suited for tall women due to shorter lengths and proportions.

What are petit fours?

Petit fours are small, bite-sized cakes or pastries often served as desserts.

Is there a male equivalent for petite?

There is no direct male equivalent for petite; men’s clothing for shorter or smaller frames is typically labeled as "short" or "slim."

Does petite imply a specific weight?

Petite refers more to height and build rather than weight, suggesting a small and slender frame.

What is the difference between petite and small sizes in clothing?

Petite sizes are specifically tailored for shorter women, while small sizes refer to the overall size, not accounting for height.

Is petit only used in legal or culinary contexts?

While common in legal and culinary contexts, petit can describe anything small in size, especially in French.
About Author
Written by
Janet White
Janet White has been an esteemed writer and blogger for Difference Wiki. Holding a Master's degree in Science and Medical Journalism from the prestigious Boston University, she has consistently demonstrated her expertise and passion for her field. When she's not immersed in her work, Janet relishes her time exercising, delving into a good book, and cherishing moments with friends and family.
Co-written by
Aimie Carlson
Aimie Carlson, holding a master's degree in English literature, is a fervent English language enthusiast. She lends her writing talents to Difference Wiki, a prominent website that specializes in comparisons, offering readers insightful analyses that both captivate and inform.

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