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 trifle (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

Other Words from trifle


trifler \ ˈtrī-​f(ə-​)lər How to pronounce trifle (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
Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Set in the hotel’s historic cobbled courtyard, guests will be treated to English sparkling wine and quintessentially British party bites like quail scotch eggs, game sausage rolls, coronation chicken tarts, plus eton mess and trifle for dessert. Nicole Trilivas, Forbes, 3 May 2022 Use this as a filling for fruit tarts and cream puffs, layered in a trifle, or folded into sliced bananas and vanilla wafers for bakery-worthy banana pudding. Shilpa Uskokovic, Bon Appétit, 5 Apr. 2022 Letters to Camondo is evocative and beautifully written but a trifle. Brian T. Allen, National Review, 10 Mar. 2022 Presumably, the couple finalized this legal trifle in order to celebrate the New Year together as buds. Bethy Squires, Vulture, 29 Dec. 2021 Today’s high-tech information operations make those earlier efforts seem a trifle quaint. Washington Post, 18 Mar. 2022 The trifle will be made with mouthwatering layers of Grand Marnier, chocolate pudding, peanut butter mousse and a Do-si-dos crumble crust. Priscilla Totiyapungprasert, The Arizona Republic, 30 Jan. 2022 By contrast, Democrats had spent months before impeaching Trump over his dealings with Ukraine — a trifle compared to January 6. Andrew C. Mccarthy, National Review, 13 Feb. 2022 What pushes Pam & Tommy from inane, inconsistent but occasionally fun trifle into a more cynical realm is, ironically, its intermittent attempts to view the saga through a feminist lens. Judy Berman, Time, 26 Jan. 2022 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb Of course, for the heavily black work force in and around Detroit that can’t retreat to a vacation home, such an inconvenience is trifling by comparison. Jonathan Martin, New York Times, 18 Apr. 2020 But these are trifling compared to the headaches caused by street protests. Max De Haldevang, Quartz, 1 Apr. 2020 But given the attention his company has been getting from the government, the strict confidentiality employees willingly stick to, and the small early demos depicted, Amaya is clearly not to be trifled with. Nathan Mattise, Ars Technica, 6 Mar. 2020 The pair enjoy spreading the word about the cook who fed the wranglers and wasn’t one to be trifled with. Vincent T. Davis,, 15 Feb. 2020 But California’s relatively trifling ceiling can add up quickly for firms with thousands of users. The Economist, 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,, 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, 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, 8 Nov. 2019 See More

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.

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

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

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Dictionary Entries Near trifle



trifle with

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Last Updated

13 May 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 18 May. 2022.

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More Definitions for trifle


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

More from Merriam-Webster on trifle

Nglish: Translation of trifle for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trifle for Arabic Speakers


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