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
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Winter in Wyoming is hardly a trifle and can be as unpredictable as the wind. Bruce Dorminey, Forbes, 29 Dec. 2021 And there was her mother’s traditional British trifle pudding, a layered dessert. Vincent T. Davis, San Antonio Express-News, 27 Dec. 2021 For a totally fool-proof British classic, Morris suggests going with a trifle. Felicia Campbell, The Arizona Republic, 22 Dec. 2021 In the present, in this archive, every trifle already appears significant. Sophie Haigney, The New Yorker, 4 Oct. 2021 It’s as if the soft-spoken New Jersey native does not want to trifle with his advancement by speaking about it too openly. Childs Walker,, 10 Oct. 2021 The dark cloud over the Mets is a trifle by comparison., 25 Sep. 2021 Daubechies cooked the entire wedding dinner (with some help from her fiancé), a Belgian-British feast of chicken with endive and Lancashire hotpot stew, chocolate cake and trifle (among other offerings) for 90 guests. New York Times, 14 Sep. 2021 By all moviemaking measures, The Adventures of André and Wally B was a trifle. Steven Levy, Wired, 31 Aug. 2021 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

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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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 Jan 2022

Cite this Entry

“Trifle.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 16 Jan. 2022.

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More Definitions for trifle



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

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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