Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 4th Edition

  • adj. Unworthy of serious attention; trivial: a frivolous novel.
  • adj. Inappropriately silly: a frivolous purchase.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • adj. Silly, especially at an inappropriate time or in an inappropriate manner.
  • adj. Of little weight or importance; not worth notice; slight.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • adj. Of little weight or importance; not worth notice; slight.
  • adj. Given to trifling; marked with unbecoming levity; silly; interested especially in trifling matters.

from The Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia

  • Of little weight, worth, or importance; not worth notice; slight; trifling; trivial: as, a frivolous argument; a frivolous objection or pretext.
  • Given to trifling; characterized by unbecoming levity; silly; weak.
  • Specifically, in law, so clearly insufficient as to need no argument to show its weakness: as, a frivolous answer or plea.

from WordNet 3.0 Copyright 2006 by Princeton University. All rights reserved.

  • adj. not serious in content or attitude or behavior

Etymologies

Middle English, probably from Latin frīvolus, of little value, probably from friāre, to crumble.
(American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition)
From Latin frīvolus ("silly, empty, trifling, frivolous, worthless"). (Wiktionary)

Examples

  • ANDERSON: Well, as I pointed out earlier, you know, most meals are eaten at home and these lawsuits really do give the term frivolous a bad name.

    CNN Transcript Mar 1, 2003

  • In the months leading up to her July resignation as Alaska governor, her legal bills had mounted to more than $500,000, fueled mostly by what she called frivolous ethics complaints.

    Palin Book EXCERPTS Released: Read Them

  • Now recall, Wolf, that when Palin announced that she's stepping down, she cited, in part, the endless ethics complaints against her, which she called frivolous and she said that the legal bills were more than $500,000.

    CNN Transcript Jul 21, 2009

  • Palin has said one of the reasons she's stepping down is because of what she called frivolous ethics complaints by political operatives descending on Alaska.

    CNN Transcript Jul 13, 2009

  • Some of his other pet issues including what he calls frivolous lawsuits.

    CNN Transcript Feb 8, 2005

  • The president spoke today in Detroit, Michigan, about asbestos litigation and the need to limit what he called frivolous lawsuits.

    CNN Transcript Jan 7, 2005

  • I'm worried about the -- what I call frivolous lawsuits that make it hard for docs to practice medicine and run up the cost of medicine.

    CNN Transcript Nov 3, 2003

  • She said she resigned her governorship because she ran up $500,000 in debt defending herself against what she called frivolous claims.

    The Washington Post: National, World & D.C. Area News and Headlines - washingtonpost.com

  • And that, my friends, is what we call a frivolous lawsuit.

    Forbes.com: News

  • She said she quit in part because of what she called frivolous ethics complaints and personal legal bills amounting to an estimated $600,000.

    Kentucky.com: Homepage

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