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 Place half of the sponge cake in the bottom of a trifle dish or 2-quart glass bowl. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Fruit and Nut Trifle," 30 Oct. 2019 Pepe, the artistic director of the Atlantic Theater Company, has directed Coen’s previous bills of one-acts and is bringing this forgettable platter of five trifles to New York next year. Los Angeles Times, "Review: Ethan Coen lifts the curtain on ‘A Play Is a Poem,’ but there’s no rhyme, no reason," 23 Sep. 2019 There are Thanksgiving traditions your mother never told you about: How to turn a turkey into a festive holiday mask, and how to combine a trifle cake and shepherd’s pie in a memorable treat for the whole family. Ben Crandell,, "16 South Florida theaters to gather ‘Friends’ for Thanksgiving," 4 Nov. 2019 Host James Corden and his guest Arnold Schwarzenegger both took turns answering questions about the first family rather than ingest less-than-mouthwatering treats like a bug trifle or Vienna sausage juice shooter. Erin Jensen, USA TODAY, "James Corden recalls confronting Ivanka Trump at a wedding: 'You can do something'," 31 Oct. 2019 This airy trifle recipe is adapted from The Little Women Cookbook by Wini Moranville. Taylor Murray, Country Living, "Fruit and Nut Trifle," 30 Oct. 2019 But here’s where the TV picture gets a trifle blurry. Mark Dawidziak,, "New WJW Channel 8 ownership is imminent but uncertain," 16 July 2019 On the other hand, fingers crossed Rachel’s meaty trifle is left out of the lineup! Hannah Chubb,, "You Can Now Take a Thanksgiving-themed Friends Tour — Complete with Turkey Dinner!," 12 Sep. 2019 Fueled by discourse and community, this trifle for passing the time on the train or in a waiting room began to take on a new urgency. Peter Rubin, WIRED, "Upstart Crossword Puzzle Builders Get Their Point Across (and Down)," 19 Aug. 2019 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb 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 Samsung made only trifling changes compared to the cameras on the Galaxy S10. Dieter Bohn, The Verge, "Samsung Galaxy Note 10 announced: two sizes, new S Pen, and DeX on your laptop," 7 Aug. 2019 Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation. 3. David Roper, idahostatesman, "Finding the virtues to put yourself right with the Lord," 21 June 2018 The losers in this exchange were subsequently ignored, told that temporary wage assistance or retraining programs would paper over these trifling problems. David Dayen, The New Republic, "The Inevitable Death of Global Trade As We Know It," 12 July 2018 Jacksonville Jaguars: 11–5* The Jaguars defense is not to be trifled with. Jonathan Jones,, "Predicting Every NFL Team’s 2018 Season Record," 7 June 2018

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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Learn More about trifle

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

3 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Trifle.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 11 December 2019.

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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

Comments on trifle

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heavy with or as if with moisture

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