tri·​fle | \ ˈtrī-fəl How to pronounce trifle (audio) \

Definition of trifle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : something of little value, substance, or importance
2 : a dessert typically consisting of plain or sponge cake often soaked with wine or spirits (such as brandy or rum) and topped with layers of preserves, custard, and cream
a trifle
: to some small degree : slightly a trifle annoyed


trifled; trifling\ ˈtrī-​f(ə-​)liŋ How to pronounce trifling (audio) \

Definition of trifle (Entry 2 of 2)

intransitive verb

1a : to treat someone or something as unimportant
b : to talk in a jesting or mocking manner or with intent to delude or mislead
2 : to handle something idly

transitive verb

: to spend or waste in trifling or on trifles

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Other Words from trifle


trifler \ ˈtrī-​f(ə-​)lər How to pronounce trifler (audio) \ noun

Choose the Right Synonym for trifle


trifle, toy, dally, flirt, coquet mean to deal with or act toward without serious purpose. trifle may imply playfulness, unconcern, indulgent contempt. to trifle with a lover's feelings toy implies acting without full attention or serious exertion of one's powers. a political novice toying with great issues dally suggests indulging in thoughts or plans merely as an amusement. dallying with the idea of building a boat someday flirt implies an interest or attention that soon passes to another object. flirted with one fashionable ism after another coquet implies attracting interest or admiration without serious intention. companies that coquet with environmentalism solely for public relations

Examples of trifle in a Sentence

Noun There's no reason to argue over such trifles. The money is a mere trifle to me. Verb do not trifle with me unless you mean to ask me to marry you spent a lazy afternoon trifling on the front porch
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun The finished trifle is showered in delicate curls of Askinosie chocolate, and each creamy bite bears an unmistakable vein of salt. Hannah Goldfield, The New Yorker, "Leo Has Its Finger on the Pulse," 31 Jan. 2020 In the larger context of the $74 billion budget for the Department of Homeland Security (which houses ICE and CBP), the summer outlay may seem a trifle. Aaron Cantú, The New Republic, "How Democrats Abetted Trump’s Bloated Border Regime," 7 Jan. 2020 Knowing that one gift can be a silly trifle takes the pressure off, and only finding one is far less time and energy-taxing than buying for the whole crowd. Lizz Schumer, Good Housekeeping, "We Don’t Buy Christmas Gifts Anymore — but Here’s What We Do Instead," 12 Dec. 2019 The enchiladas did look better than the traditional English trifle that Aniston presented as Rachel Green in a Thanksgiving episode of Friends in 1999 that included multiple layers of custard, peas and beef, among other ingredients. Morgan Hines, USA TODAY, "Happy Thanksgiving: Jimmy Fallon, Matthew McConaughey, more share messages of thanks, love," 28 Nov. 2019 Opt for a caramel apple trifle or pumpkin brioche pudding for dessert. Georgann Yara, azcentral, "Here are 38 restaurants for Thanksgiving dinner and brunch in metro Phoenix," 15 Nov. 2019 The crew handed out our second meal, a soporific mélange of sweet potato soup, sandwiches and a panna cotta trifle. Sarah Lyall, New York Times, "Would 19 Hours and 16 Minutes in the Air Make Me Crazy?," 13 Nov. 2019 Fathom’s two-day mini-binge includes episodes that have become classics for many a Gen Xer: Chandler declaring his love for Monica, Joey trying to consume an entire turkey, Monica with a turkey on her head and Rachel’s inventive trifle cake. Ben Crandell,, "16 South Florida theaters to gather ‘Friends’ for Thanksgiving," 4 Nov. 2019 Remember when Rachel ruined the British trifle by putting beef in it? Abby Gardner, Glamour, "The One Where Jennifer Aniston and Reese Witherspoon Take a Friends Quiz," 2 Nov. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The pair enjoy spreading the word about the cook who fed the wranglers and wasn’t one to be trifled with. Vincent T. Davis,, "Chuck wagon cook rustles up Old West chow at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo," 15 Feb. 2020 But California’s relatively trifling ceiling can add up quickly for firms with thousands of users. The Economist, "The data sheriffs Companies should take California’s new data-privacy law seriously," 18 Dec. 2019 But over the last week, such worries have come to feel almost trifling, as Mississippi’s state prisons have exploded with gang warfare, riots, disorder and killing. Richard Fausset,, "‘A bloodbath’: 5 dead as gang violence rocks Mississippi prisons," 9 Jan. 2020 Pairing Smith with Fitzgerald Mofor on the outside has proven an effective move and Kris Moll and Noah Wilder’s presence in the middle is one with which not to trifle. Evan Dudley, al, "5 takeaways from UAB’s 33-14 victory over UTSA," 15 Oct. 2019 The guild has insisted that the solidarity and resolve its members have shown in the agency fight sends a signal to the studios, too, that writers are newly energized and not to be trifled with. Jonathan Handel, The Hollywood Reporter, "Writers Guild Reveals Studio Negotiating Committee Amid Agency Fight," 8 Nov. 2019 To be sure, that’s a petty, trifling point of view, but the sports world peddles in that stuff at every level. Joseph Goodman |, al, "Questions remain for UAB. Are these paper dragons?," 25 Sep. 2019 During Capanis’ 2017 trial, prosecutors introduced evidence that Capanis was a leader in the Norteño gang, and had killed Grijalva to show that members of the gang weren’t to be trifled with. Nate Gartrell, The Mercury News, "Appeal denied for Norteño leader convicted of murdering teen," 12 Sep. 2019 The total market for e-cigarettes remains trifling in comparison with sales of the normal sort, at about $200m a year, according to Euromonitor. The Economist, "Indonesia seeks to curb e-cigarettes, but not the normal sort," 1 Aug. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trifle.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of trifle


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


14th century, in the meaning defined at intransitive sense 1b

History and Etymology for trifle


Middle English trufle, trifle, from Anglo-French trufle, triffle fraud, trick, nonsense


Middle English truflen, triflen, from Anglo-French trufler to trick, talk nonsense

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Time Traveler for trifle

Time Traveler

The first known use of trifle was in the 14th century

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Statistics for trifle

Last Updated

26 Feb 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Feb. 2020.

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More Definitions for trifle


How to pronounce trifle (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of trifle

: something that does not have much value or importance
: a dessert made of layers of cake, jam or jelly, and custard and topped with whipped cream


tri·​fle | \ ˈtrī-fəl How to pronounce trifle (audio) \

Kids Definition of trifle

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: something of little value or importance


trifled; trifling

Kids Definition of trifle (Entry 2 of 2)

: to treat (someone or something) as unimportant Robin … was the more muscular of the twins and not to be trifled with.— Susan Cooper, The Dark is Rising

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More from Merriam-Webster on trifle

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trifle

Rhyming Dictionary: Words that rhyme with trifle

Spanish Central: Translation of trifle

Nglish: Translation of trifle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trifle for Arabic Speakers

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