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tri·​fle ˈtrī-fəl How to pronounce trifle (audio)
: something of little value, substance, or importance
: 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


2 of 2


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

intransitive verb

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

transitive verb

: to spend or waste in trifling or on trifles
trifler noun
a trifle
: to some small degree : slightly
a trifle annoyed
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

Example Sentences

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
For something based on a boomer-nostalgia title and designed by nature to be a cash-in, this late-summer trifle was breezy, fun, and surprisingly great. David Fear, Rolling Stone, 3 Mar. 2023 This trifle was not made of cream; it was made of a thick white sauce. Dan Snierson,, 22 Nov. 2022 Special to this year will be a classic beef Wellington as well as fish and chips, and an English trifle for dessert. Jeremy Repanich, Robb Report, 10 Mar. 2023 Save room for dessert, with options like a trifle and a rich Guinness chocolate cake smothered in an Amara-caramel sauce. Devorah Lev-tov, Travel + Leisure, 23 Feb. 2023 Blackberry white chocolate trifle, featuring Krasne’s daughter Sahara, for Mother’s Day: 5 p.m. San Diego Union-Tribune, 6 Apr. 2021 Spread it on a shortcake, dip cookies in it, or layer it in a trifle. Hollyanna Mccollom, Better Homes & Gardens, 7 Feb. 2023 However, Rosaline also begins to connect with another contestant, shy electrician Harry Dobson, putting Rosie in a love triangle that proves just as challenging a baking a trifle in 90 minutes. Dana Rose Falcone, Peoplemag, 7 Feb. 2023 The highlight, though, is Rachel helping Monica cook Thanksgiving dinner, only to accidentally make a bizarre dessert concoction after combining the recipes for an English trifle and a shepherd's pie. Brendan Morrow, The Week, 24 Nov. 2022
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.

Word History



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


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

First Known Use


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


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

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

Dictionary Entries Near trifle

Cite this Entry

“Trifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 27 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


1 of 2 noun
tri·​fle ˈtrī-fəl How to pronounce trifle (audio)
: something of little value or importance
: a dessert of sponge cake spread with jam or jelly covered with a custard and whipped cream


2 of 2 verb
trifled; trifling -f(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce trifle (audio)
: to talk in a joking manner
: to treat someone or something as unimportant
: to waste (as time or money) in trifling or on trifles
: to handle something idly : toy
trifler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on trifle

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