Definitions

from The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, 5th Edition.

  • noun Something of little importance or value.
  • noun A small amount; a jot.
  • noun A dessert typically consisting of plain or sponge cake soaked in sherry, rum, or brandy and topped with layers of jam or jelly, custard, and whipped cream.
  • noun A moderately hard variety of pewter.
  • noun Utensils made from this variety of pewter.
  • intransitive verb To treat flippantly or without seriousness; play or toy: synonym: flirt.
  • intransitive verb Archaic To act or speak with little seriousness or purpose; jest.
  • intransitive verb To waste (time or money, for example).
  • idiom (a trifle) A little; somewhat.

from The Century Dictionary.

  • noun A jest; a joke; a pleasantry.
  • noun A trick; a fraud; a lie.
  • noun An idle speech or tale; vain or foolish talk; twaddle; nonsense; absurdity.
  • noun Anything of slight value or moment; a paltry matter; an insignificant fact, circumstance, object, amount, etc.: often used in the adverbial phrase a trifle: as, to feel a trifle annoyed.
  • noun A dish or confection consisting mainly of whipped cream or some light substitute, as the beaten whites of eggs, and usually containing fruit or almonds, and cake or pastry soaked in wine or brandy.
  • noun Common pewter, such as is used for ordinary utensils, composed of eighty parts of tin and twenty of lead.
  • To jest; make sport; hence, to use mockery; treat something with derision, flippancy, or a lack of proper respect; often followed by with.
  • To use trickery or deception; cheat; lie.
  • To talk or act idly; busy one's self with trivial or useless things; act frivolously; waste one's time; dally; idle.
  • To play, as by lightly handling or touching something; toy.
  • To turn into jest or sport; hence, to treat lightly or flippantly; play with.
  • To spend on trifles; pass idly or foolishly; waste; fritter: often followed by away.
  • To utter or perform lightly or carelessly.
  • To reduce to a trifle; make trivial or of no importance.

from the GNU version of the Collaborative International Dictionary of English.

  • transitive verb obsolete To make of no importance; to treat as a trifle.
  • transitive verb To spend in vanity; to fritter away; to waste.
  • noun A thing of very little value or importance; a paltry, or trivial, affair.
  • noun A dish composed of sweetmeats, fruits, cake, wine, etc., with syllabub poured over it.
  • intransitive verb To act or talk without seriousness, gravity, weight, or dignity; to act or talk with levity; to indulge in light or trivial amusements.
  • intransitive verb to play the fool with; to treat without respect or seriousness; to mock; as, to trifle with one's feelings, or with sacred things.

from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.

  • noun An English dessert made from a mixture of thick custard, fruit, sponge cake, jelly and whipped cream.
  • noun An insignificant amount.
  • noun Anything that is of little importance or worth.
  • noun A particular kind of pewter.
  • noun uncountable utensils made from this particular kind of pewter.
  • verb intransitive To deal with something as if it were of little importance or worth.
  • verb intransitive To act, speak, or otherwise behave with jest.
  • verb intransitive To inconsequentially toy with something.
  • verb transitive To squander or waste.

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

  • verb consider not very seriously
  • noun a detail that is considered insignificant
  • verb act frivolously
  • verb waste time; spend one's time idly or inefficiently
  • noun a cold pudding made of layers of sponge cake spread with fruit or jelly; may be decorated with nuts, cream, or chocolate
  • noun something of small importance

Etymologies

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

[Middle English trufle, trifle, piece of foolishness, trifling matter, from Old French trufle, variant of truffe, trick, mockery, from Old Provençal trufa, truffle, mockery (from the notion that truffles, being difficult to find, seem to mock those who search for them); see truffle.]

Examples

  • "I would have given my life willingly for what you call a trifle, sir," said the marquis, with a bow to Osra.

    McClure's Magazine, Vol. 6, No. 2, January, 1896

  • The leftovers tasted great, but each time we removed the trifle from the fridge the layers had sunk further, as the ladyfingers absorbed more of the sauce and cream, which had additionally deflated, thereby creating a sunken, lopsided look.

    Blueberry Lemon Tiramisu Trifle

  • You can eat it as is, toast it, use it in trifle, to dip in chocolate fondue ... and probably a whole load of other things I haven't heard of.

    Sour Cream Pound Cake & A Winner!

  • The leftovers tasted great, but each time we removed the trifle from the fridge the layers had sunk further, as the ladyfingers absorbed more of the sauce and cream, which had additionally deflated, thereby creating a sunken, lopsided look.

    Archive 2009-08-01

  • You can eat it as is, toast it, use it in trifle, to dip in chocolate fondue ... and probably a whole load of other things I haven't heard of.

    Archive 2009-01-01

  • A significant change from Chabon's weightier novels, this dazzling trifle is simply terrific fun.

    Gentlemen of the Road: Summary and book reviews of Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon.

  • A trifle is a very nice thing to have after a big dinner, for although it is quite rich and evil, it feels light going down.

    Toast:

  • A trifle is a very nice thing to have after a big dinner, for although it is quite rich and evil, it feels light going down.

    Thanksgiving: Trifling with Tradition

  • In the Toast family, each trifle is different, and improvisation is encouraged.

    Toast:

  • In the Toast family, each trifle is different, and improvisation is encouraged.

    Thanksgiving: Trifling with Tradition

Comments

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  • found in Merriam Webster's Dictionary pg 84

    November 15, 2010

  • I always makes me think of Susan Glaspell.

    January 6, 2011