trifle

1 of 2

noun

tri·​fle ˈtrī-fəl How to pronounce trifle (audio)
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

trifle

2 of 2

verb

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

intransitive verb

1
a
: 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
trifler noun
Phrases
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

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
The film takes place almost exclusively in the same suite of rooms, like a stage farce, and the brief run time makes this a pleasant if inconsequential trifle. Danny Horn, EW.com, 4 Jan. 2024 Break out your prettiest trifle dish No holiday spread is complete without at least one dessert on the table, and in the South, that dish is likely a trifle. Cameron Beall, Southern Living, 25 Oct. 2023 In former white settler colonies, like Canada, the tradition endured, although in Australia, where Christmas falls in summer, trifle and pavlova are at least equally common. Troy Bickham, Discover Magazine, 12 Dec. 2023 The title track is a fun trifle from the band’s brief but respectable flirtation with disco, highlighted by a snappy Watts groove and a playful Jagger falsetto. Al Shipley, SPIN, 17 Oct. 2023 Whether it's layered into a trifle, transformed into a cheesecake, spooned over cupcakes, sipped in a cocktail, or baked into macaroons, there's no wrong way to enjoy this classic dish. Emily Nabors Hall, Southern Living, 5 Jan. 2024 And for those in attendance Saturday at Taipei’s 2,500-seater Sun Yat-Sen Memorial Hall venue such trifles seemed far away. Patrick Frater, Variety, 25 Nov. 2023 This holiday season, let there be cookies and trifles and tarts. Southern Living Editors, Southern Living, 13 Oct. 2023 At a 1998 conference in Tasmania, Gottesman explained that, in a specific type of quantum circuit, the seemingly quintessential quantum quantity became a trifle for a classical computer to simulate. Charlie Wood, Quanta Magazine, 19 Oct. 2023
Verb
In the event, however, the Biden Justice Department prosecuted hundreds of people on trifling misdemeanor offenses that would never have been charged in normal cases untainted by partisan politics. Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, 9 Dec. 2023 The most vivid example: when a trifling husband (played by Michael Oloyede) asked God to strike him down in an obvious lie to his wife (Nana Mensah). Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Times, 4 Dec. 2023 Pictorial imagery catches us unawares because, as intellectuals, we are trained to analyze text and to treat drawings or photographs as trifling adjuncts. Stephen Jay Gould, Discover Magazine, 11 Nov. 2019 Pitt trifled away millions of Chateau Miraval’s dollars on vanity projects at the estate to ensure that the previously highly profitable wine label did not make Jolie and Nouvel any money, according to their complaint. Rachel Shin, Fortune, 11 July 2023 But others, in my experience, have just been trifling. Michelle Singletary, Washington Post, 14 June 2023 The everyday cadences of the film, the trifling conversations about flowers and kids and neighbors and hand-me-down clothes and where to live, are clearly meant to be relatable. Bilge Ebiri, Vulture, 22 May 2023 Throughout the book, matters of politics or patriotism are steamrolled by corporations, which (like the rocket) transcend nations and their trifling differences. John Semley, WIRED, 16 Feb. 2023 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 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trifle.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History

Etymology

Noun

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

Verb

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

First Known Use

Noun

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1

Verb

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.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trifle. Accessed 24 Feb. 2024.

Kids Definition

trifle

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

trifle

2 of 2 verb
trifled; trifling -f(ə-)liŋ How to pronounce trifle (audio)
1
a
: to talk in a joking manner
b
: to treat someone or something as unimportant
2
: to waste (as time or money) in trifling or on trifles
3
: to handle something idly : toy
trifler noun

More from Merriam-Webster on trifle

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