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>
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.
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