Definition of trifle in US English:

trifle

noun

  • 1A thing of little value or importance.

    ‘we needn't trouble the headmaster over such trifles’
    • ‘They've already done a medley of titles and we're not going to be bothered with such prosaic trifles, or their authors, tonight.’
    • ‘It has the kind of silliness that makes you turn a blind eye to such trifles as plausibility or emotional truth in musicals from the '30s and '40s.’
    • ‘Presumably the Australian Strategic Policy Institute doesn't take into account such trifles when determining an organisation's credibility.’
    • ‘Husbands complain about domestic trifles or elope with younger mistresses, male colleagues disparage women by making rude remarks about their figure, and the female body, on the whole, is either coveted or rejected.’
    • ‘It is easy to drug people in such a state with the opium of spurious patriotism and make them offer themselves to the gory gods of war, throwing their lives away like worthless trifles.’
    • ‘At times the whole world seems to be in conspiracy to importune you with emphatic trifles.’
    • ‘But these are mere trifles when there's oil to be had.’
    • ‘Today's scripted trifles are the most important trivia of his life.’
    • ‘‘However, such rules are regarded by some construction units as fussing over trifles,’ said Zhang Chi, professor from East China University of Politics and Law.’
    • ‘I also recalled my earlier, seeming trifles of research.’
    • ‘The opposition Awami League with their poor leadership of Sheikh Hasina is not doing any constructive movement but have been busy with unnecessary trifles and quarrels with government.’
    • ‘‘Just a few trifles,’ he said of the corruption allegations.’
    • ‘Do not think music is very important; regard it as a trifle, an entertainment, a foolish leisure-time activity, or simply something they are not interested in.’
    • ‘It appears that you have finally realized the importance of trifles, but you have not yet learned what to do with them.’
    • ‘In wartime, heroes come into being in times of crisis; in peacetime, they come into existence by doing trifles in everyday life.’
    • ‘One of the reviews in England said my songs were flip and flimsy trifles.’
    • ‘‘When you get older trifles of that kind will not trouble you’, I remarked.’
    • ‘Rather than wrestle with these inquiries, Ashcroft simply admitted that he didn't know, stressing instead that there wasn't any time to ruminate on such trifles.’
    • ‘Good companies prevent their servers from forwarding mail that do not originate from their clients, but more negligent companies do not pay attention to such trifles.’
    • ‘It had big ideas about many things, but as a result wasted its energy on trifles.’
    unimportant matter, unimportant thing, trivial matter, trivial thing, triviality, matter of no consequence, thing of no consequence, matter of no importance, thing of no importance, bagatelle, inessential, nothing
    bauble, trinket, knick-knack, gimcrack, gewgaw, toy
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    1. 1.1in singular A small amount of something.
      ‘the thousand yen he'd paid seemed the merest trifle’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘Austen's fictional Henry Cecil spends £18000 a year (a rather fabulous sum) from a total capital of less than £900, and so is "able to save but a trifle".’
      very small amount, next to nothing, hardly anything
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  • 2British A cold dessert of sponge cake and fruit covered with layers of custard, jelly, and cream.

    • ‘A course of orange squash, roast chicken dinner, trifle and a cup of tea was prescribed to nurse my hangover.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘Popular desserts were trifle, fruit salad and traditional Christmas pudding, often made wrapped in a cloth and boiled in the copper.’
    • ‘Sherry, brandy, and Marsala add flavour and an alcoholic kick to creamy puddings such as trifle, syllabub, cranachan, brose, tiramisu, zabaglione, and egg nog.’
    • ‘I'd probably sprinkle them on top of a trifle if I ate trifles.’
    • ‘My trifle, in particular, was made with conspicuously fresh ingredients, and the attention made it a treat.’
    • ‘Jayne and I decided to share a large slice of banoffee pie, which was gorgeous, while Marjorie, a connoisseur of trifles, gave the Lamplight sherry trifle nine marks out of ten.’
    • ‘When a ham is roasting in the oven with a bit of sherry poured over it, or a trifle, for goodness' sake, has a bit of sherry in it, is sherry not a cooking condiment?’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘I'd probably want to follow it with my mother-in-law's trifle or wonderful summer pudding.’

verb

[no object]
  • 1trifle withTreat (someone or something) without seriousness or respect.

    ‘he is not a man to be trifled with’
    ‘men who trifle with women's affections’
    • ‘I trifle with it if I'm not hungry and drink it when I am.’
    • ‘A physician cannot afford to trifle with the medical board.’
    • ‘That seven-day rhythm was not something to trifle with.’
    • ‘I trifle with it if I am not hungry, and drink it when I am.’
    • ‘The member is starting to trifle with the House.’
    • ‘He no longer needs to trifle with mere mortal intellects.’
    • ‘Certainly, fixing the price of a kilo of pineapple or tapioca is something farmers don't trifle with.’
    • ‘The member is beginning to trifle with the Chair.’
    • ‘He simply doesn't have time to trifle with losers.’
    • ‘But this is too serious a matter to trifle with, and it's too heartfelt an issue.’
    • ‘It is highly unlikely that they would allow any internal or external factor to trifle with their unity or a united platform to promote and preserve their interests.’
    • ‘Important nations are feared, respected, and rarely trifled with.’
    • ‘We must not trifle with the people's trust by foot-dragging.’
    • ‘Still, she has trifled with my emotions once too often.’
    • ‘Genuine low self-esteem is nothing to trifle with.’
    • ‘The top ladies can trifle with the exaggerated exposure of legging it around a male tournament, for they don't need the dollars but would occupy places men try hard to earn.’
    • ‘Delaney was not for trifling with and while others around him were off their game he compensated, and then some more!’
    • ‘‘We should not trifle with this final opportunity of achieving peace,’ Wickremesinghe said.’
    • ‘Yet he has shown a willingness to trifle with it at a time when it is more important than ever to Australia's security.’
    • ‘He's just looking for true stories that lie buried in the data that, for most people, are far too intimidating to trifle with.’
    treat in a cavalier fashion, treat lightly, treat frivolously, treat casually, play ducks and drakes with
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  • 2archaic Talk or act frivolously.

    ‘we will not trifle—life is too short’
    • ‘How can we trifle away our lives.’
    • ‘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.’
    1. 2.1trifle something awaywith object Waste something, especially time, frivolously.
      • ‘'I may be able to form an estimate of how I have spent my leisure time, whether I have been trifling it away or turning it to any particular advantage.’
      • ‘He is trifling it away; but no matter.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘God supplied Adam with a suitable stock, but he trifled it away.’
      • ‘The. life and health of the body appear too precious to be thus trifled away.’

Phrases

  • a trifle

    • A little; somewhat.

      ‘his methods are a trifle eccentric’
      • ‘Granted they both worked in a steam laundry in West Texas in the summer but the fact that they kept our house at a chilly 65 degrees now strikes me as a trifle extreme.’
      • ‘The trip was made a trifle bit easy for him since he was accompanying his parents to various areas, where all three worked in their respective area.’
      • ‘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.’
      • ‘But I know the chances of being able to actually go somewhere are a trifle slim, seeing as I've left it a bit late and all…’
      • ‘Yet voice-over is always a trifle distancing, and particularly so when the language of the 1770s sounds so archaic to our ears today.’
      • ‘Now, you may think this game sounds a trifle sad.’
      • ‘But afterwards, the fields seemed a bit larger, the houses a trifle more substantial, the roads wider.’
      • ‘Perhaps it would be a trifle rash to suggest that Australian sport has gone into terminal decline.’
      • ‘This commentary is a trifle self-indulgent, actually.’
      • ‘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.’
      a little, a bit, somewhat, a touch, a spot, a mite, a whit
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Origin

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’.

Pronunciation

trifle

/ˈtrīfəl//ˈtraɪfəl/