Definition of trifle in English:

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Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌɪf(ə)l/


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/matter, trivial thing/matter, triviality, thing/matter of no consequence, thing/matter of no importance, bagatelle, inessential, nothing;
(trifles) trivia, minutiae
bauble, trinket, knick-knack, gimcrack, gewgaw, toy
informal whatnot
British informal doodah
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.
very small amount, next to nothing, hardly anything;
informal peanuts, piddling amount
North American informal chump change
2British A cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream: syllabubs, trifles, and other dishes [mass noun]: bowls of trifle followed
More 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 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.
treat in a cavalier fashion, treat lightly, treat frivolously, treat casually, play ducks and drakes with;
dally with, play with, amuse oneself with, toy with, flirt with, play fast and loose with
informal mess about/around
archaic sport with, wanton with, palter 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: he had trifled away two months at a task which should have taken a week
More 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 spot, a mite, a whit
informal a tad, ish



Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌɪf(ə)lə/
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

Line breaks: trifle

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