trifle
Pronunciation
  • IPA: /ˈtɹaɪfəl/
Noun

trifle

  1. An English dessert made from a mixture of thick custard, fruit, sponge cake, jelly and whipped cream.
    Coordinate terms: tiramisu#English|tiramisu, bread pudding#English|bread pudding
  2. Anything that is of little importance or worth.
    Synonyms: bagatelle, minor detail, whiffle, Thesaurus:trifle
    • circa 1604 William Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, Scene 3,
      Trifles light as air / Are to the jealous confirmation strong / As proofs of holy writ.
    • 1631, Michael Drayton, Nimphidia the Court of Fayrie in The Battaile of Agincourt, London: William Lee, p. 168,
      Olde Geoffrey Chaucer doth of Topas tell,
      Mad François Rabelais of Pantagruell,
      A latter third of Dowsabell,
      With such poore trifles playing:
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, Moll Flanders, London, p. 34,
      […] when they had the Character and Honour of a Woman at their Mercy, often times made it their Jest, and at least look’d upon it as a Trifle, and counted the Ruin of those, they had had their Will of, as a thing of no value.
    • 1871, Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking-Glass, Chapter 4,
      ‘And all about a rattle!’ said Alice, still hoping to make them a little ashamed of fighting for such a trifle.
    1. An insignificant amount of money.
      • circa 1597 William Shakespeare, Henry IV, Part 1, Act III, Scene 3,
        A trifle, some eight-penny matter.
      • 1818, Jane Austen, Northanger Abbey, Chapter 9,
        He told her of horses which he had bought for a trifle and sold for incredible sums […]
      • 1900, Joseph Conrad, Lord Jim, Edinburgh and London: William Blackwood, Chapter 30, p. 311,
        What’s eighty dollars? A trifle. An insignificant sum.
      • 1975, Saul Bellow, Humboldt's Gift, New York: Avon, 1976, p. 462,
        “It was bad of me then not to send the fifteen hundred dollars. I assumed it would be a trifle.”
        “Well, until a few months ago it was a trifle.”
  3. A very small amount (of something).
    Synonyms: smidgen, Thesaurus:modicum
    • 1742, Daniel Defoe, A tour thro' the whole island of Great Britain, London: J. Osborn et al., Volume 2, Letter II. Containing A Description of the City of London, p. 90, footnote,
      This Line leaves out […] Poplar and Black-wall, which are indeed contiguous, a Trifle of Ground excepted, and very populous.
    • 1868, Louisa May Alcott, Little Women, Part 1, Chapter 2,
      There was a good deal of rustling and whispering behind the curtain, a trifle of lamp smoke, and an occasional giggle from Amy […]
    • 1932, Graham Greene, Stamboul Strain, London: Heinemann, Part 4, p. 180,
      “Take just a trifle of French mustard […] ”
  4. A particular kind of pewter.
  5. (uncountable) Utensils made from this particular kind of pewter.
Translations
  • French: bagatelle
  • German: Trifle
  • Italian: zuppa inglese (a similar Italian dessert)
  • Portuguese: trifle
  • Russian: бискви́т
  • Spanish: sopa inglesa
Translations Translations Translations Verb

trifle (trifles, present participle trifling; past and past participle trifled)

  1. (intransitive) To deal with something as if it were of little importance or worth.
    You must not trifle with her affections.
    • circa 1604 William Shakespeare, Othello, Act I, Scene 1,
      […] Do not believe
      That, from the sense of all civility,
      I thus would play and trifle with your reverence:
    • 1813, Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice, Chapter 56,
      “Miss Bennet,” replied her ladyship, in an angry tone, “you ought to know, that I am not to be trifled with […] ”
    • 1948, Alan Paton, Cry, the Beloved Country, Penguin, 1958, Book 2, Chapter 11, p. 171,
      But a Judge may not trifle with the Law because the society is defective.
  2. (intransitive) To act, speak, or otherwise behave with jest.
    • 1847, Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights, Chapter 27,
      […] playing and trifling are completely banished out of my mind […]
    • 1953, Saul Bellow, The Adventures of Augie March, New York: Viking, 1960, Chapter 19, p. 405,
      But he was terribly roused too and bound to go on; he wasn’t just trifling but intended something.
  3. (intransitive) To inconsequentially toy with something.
    • 1850, Charles Dickens, David Copperfield, Chapter 28,
      Mr. Micawber, leaning back in his chair, trifled with his eye-glass and cast his eyes up at the ceiling […]
    • 1965, Muriel Spark, The Mandelbaum Gate, New York: Fawcett, 1967, Part 1, Chapter 6, p. 151,
      She sat in a café, trifling with her coffee spoon.
  4. (transitive) To squander or waste.
    • circa 1596 William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1,
      We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, London: T. Passinger, p. 62,
      For an honest and sober man will rather make that woman his wife, whom he seeth employed continually about her business, than one who makes it her business to trifle away her own and others time.
    • 1818, Jane Austen, Persuasion (novel), Chapter 6,
      As it was, he did nothing with much zeal, but sport; and his time was otherwise trifled away, without benefit from books or anything else.
    • 1925, Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985, p. 189,
      You who have known neither sorrow nor pleasure; who have trifled your life away!
  5. (transitive, obsolete) To make a trifle of, to make trivial.
    • circa 1605 William Shakespeare, Macbeth, Act II, Scene 4,
      […] but this sore night
      Hath trifled former knowings.
Synonyms Translations
  • German: leichtfertig umgehen, nachlässig umgehen
  • Russian: игра́ть
  • Spanish: tratar a la ligera
Translations
  • Russian: прика́лываться
Translations
  • German: herumspielen
  • Russian: тереби́ть
Translations


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