Definition of trifle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrīfəl/


1A thing of little value or importance: we needn’t trouble the headmaster over such trifles
More example sentences
  • It appears that you have finally realized the importance of trifles, but you have not yet learned what to do with them.
  • Today's scripted trifles are the most important trivia of his life.
  • At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles.
unimportant thing, trivial thing, triviality, thing of no importance, thing of no consequence, bagatelle, inessential, nothing;
technicality, nonissue;
(trifles) trivia, minutiae, flummery, small potatoes
bauble, trinket, knickknack, gimcrack, gewgaw, toy
informal whatnot
1.1 [in singular] A small amount of something: the thousand yen he’d paid seemed the merest trifle
More example sentences
  • It seems 100 million won is a trifle as the value system of money is shaken and the social function of money is faltering in the raging Lotto syndrome.
  • The £2.50 or so I try and save is a mere trifle, but I am obsessed by it.
  • It cost me but a trifle.
next to nothing, a very small amount;
a pittance
informal peanuts, chump change
2British A cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.
Example sentences
  • There were cold meats of every kind, huge bowls of mixed salads, large desserts, trifles, jellies tarts and mince pies, and also some very interesting looking hors d' oeuvres.
  • Whether it comes as a traditional bowl of fruit and Jersey cream or a rich trifle, vivid ice cream or cool cheesecake, the combination is an unmissable part of the British summer.
  • Sherry, brandy, and Marsala add flavour and an alcoholic kick to creamy puddings such as trifle, syllabub, cranachan, brose, tiramisu, zabaglione, and egg nog.


[no object]
1 (trifle with) Treat (someone or something) without seriousness or respect: he is not a man to be trifled with men who trifle with women’s affections
More example sentences
  • But this is too serious a matter to trifle with, and it's too heartfelt an issue.
  • Important nations are feared, respected, and rarely trifled with.
  • Genuine low self-esteem is nothing to trifle with.
play with, amuse oneself with, toy with, dally with, be flippant with, flirt with, play fast and loose with, mess about with
dated sport with
2 archaic Talk or act frivolously: we will not trifle—life is too short
More example sentences
  • It means the act of dallying, flirting, toying or trifling.
  • Have they not, as Paul says, become vain in their disputations, always trifling about universals, formalities, connotations, and various other foolish words?
  • Coffee leads men to trifle away their time.
2.1 [with object] (trifle something away) Waste something, especially time, frivolously.
Example sentences
  • God supplied Adam with a suitable stock, but he trifled it away.
  • And yet we can afford to trifle it away; yea, and to allow ourselves in this, and wilfully to cast off the greatest works of God.
  • He is trifling it away; but no matter.


a trifle

A little; somewhat: his methods are a trifle eccentric
More example sentences
  • These gadgets, though a trifle expensive at first, brought the theatre sound right into the living room, to the great delight of those who could afford the powerful systems.
  • As the number has swelled, the attention that tourism has got from the Government and the big business houses has made the small and medium entrepreneurs a trifle uneasy.
  • This commentary is a trifle self-indulgent, actually.
a little, a bit, somewhat, a touch, a mite, a whit
informal a tad



Pronunciation: /ˈtrīf(ə)lər/
Example sentences
  • Our suspicion that his was not a room for triflers was confirmed by the wine list, which had the heft of a big-city phone book.
  • Once the poets and the sages were held to be pleasing triflers, fit for hours of relaxation in the lulls of war.
  • You are not the callous trifler you pretend to be.


Middle English (also denoting an idle story told to deceive or amuse): from Old French trufle, by-form of trufe 'deceit', of unknown origin. The verb derives from Old French truffler 'mock, deceive'.

Words that rhyme with trifle

Eiffel, rifle, stifle

For editors and proofreaders

Syllabification: tri·fle

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