Definition of trifle in English:


Line breaks: trifle
Pronunciation: /ˈtrʌɪf(ə)l


  • 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
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    • 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.


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  • 2 archaic Talk or act frivolously: we will not trifle—life is too short
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    • 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
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    • 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
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  • 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



More 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'.

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