Definition of frivolous
Examples of frivolous in a Sentence
She knew that people might think her frivolous, Kitty said, to talk to some saint when she had a cooking disaster, but that was what she really believed the saints were there for. —Alice Munro, New Yorker, 8 Oct. 2001
As the Explorer quickly became the most popular SUV of all time … a number of lawsuits concerning the Firestone tires were filed, the first in 1992. But Ford and Firestone, like most companies in today's … society, tend to assume that the bulk of legal actions are frivolous. —Daniel Eisenberg, Time, 11 Sept. 2000
There is no frivolous decoration, no canned music, nothing but the essentials—well-worn cutlery and table linen, unpretentious glasses. —Peter Mayle, GQ, May 1998
She thinks window shopping is a frivolous activity.
judges are getting sick of people bringing frivolous lawsuits
Recent Examples of frivolous from the Web
They can be seen, depending on one’s politics, as necessary watchdog actions against the Democrats, or as time-sucking, frivolous distractions by a partisan rival.
Linklater’s bet—that viewers would care about the frivolous antics of these overflowing fountains of testosterone—was a pretty risky one.
Behind this seemingly frivolous pursuit was a serious psychological purpose: The hina doll bridged reality and the freedom of the imagination.
■ It is not used to police more frivolous disputes among political candidates or political factions.
The chief elections official, Secretary of State Brian P. Kemp, has called the suit frivolous.
But with the United States as the world’s sole nuclear power, and the weapons in its stockpile numbering fewer than ten, Crossroads also came to be criticized as wasteful and frivolous.
This method of appraisal wasn’t entirely frivolous.
But as the legal financing industry has grown, business groups have claimed that outside investing helps fuel frivolous litigation.
These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'frivolous'. Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.
A Serious Discussion about the Meaning of frivolous
The word frivolous is applied to things that don't deserve serious attention—though in some cases a thing described as "frivolous" is serious enough to be a legal matter.
In its most basic, and oldest, uses, frivolous simply describes things of little importance. You can refer to anything you don't find worthwhile—from silly products to outrageous forms of entertainment to goofy pursuits—as "frivolous." Something that in a more technical sense lacks seriousness can also be described with the word; a frivolous essay or book isn't dealing with important topics or ideas. In applying the word frivolous to something, you're saying it doesn't deserve serious attention.
The word frivolous gets more serious when it's applied, as it often is, to legal matters. If a lawsuit is said to be frivolous, it cannot be successfully argued (because, for example, a successful argument would require that a widely rejected legal theory be accepted) or that laws—or the facts—don't support it.
Origin and Etymology of frivolous
Middle English, from Latin frivolus
First Known Use: 15th century
FRIVOLOUS Defined for English Language Learners
Definition of frivolous for English Language Learners
: not important : not deserving serious attention
: silly and not serious
FRIVOLOUS Defined for Kids
Legal Definition of frivolous
: lacking in any arguable basis or merit in either law or fact
Additional Notes on frivolous
In an attempt to discourage frivolous lawsuits, Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure requires the signature of an attorney or party on any pleading, motion, or other paper to certify that to the signer's knowledge it is grounded in fact and warranted by law or otherwise brought in good faith and not for an improper purpose. A court is authorized to impose sanctions for violation of the rule.
Seen and Heard
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