trifle

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English[edit]

A raspberry trifle (1)

Etymology[edit]

From Middle English trifle, trifel, triful, trefle, truyfle, trufful, from Old French trufle (mockery), a byform of trufe, truffe (deception), of uncertain origin.

Pronunciation[edit]

  • IPA(key): /ˈtɹaɪfəl/
  • (file)
  • Rhymes: -aɪfəl
  • Hyphenation: tri‧fle

Noun[edit]

trifle (countable and uncountable, plural trifles)

  1. An English dessert made from a mixture of thick custard, fruit, sponge cake, jelly and whipped cream.
    Coordinate terms: tiramisu, bread pudding
  2. Anything that is of little importance or worth.
    Synonyms: bagatelle, minor detail, whiffle; see also Thesaurus:trifle
    1. An insignificant amount of money.
  3. A very small amount (of something).
    Synonyms: smidgen; see also Thesaurus:modicum
  4. A particular kind of pewter.
  5. (uncountable) Utensils made from this particular kind of pewter.

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Verb[edit]

trifle (third-person singular simple present trifles, present participle trifling, simple 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.
  2. (intransitive) To act, speak, or otherwise behave with jest.
  3. (intransitive) To inconsequentially toy with something.
  4. (transitive) To squander or waste.
    • c. 1596–1598, William Shakespeare, “The Merchant of Venice”, in Mr. William Shakespeares Comedies, Histories, & Tragedies [] (First Folio), London: [] Isaac Iaggard, and Ed[ward] Blount, published 1623, OCLC 606515358, [Act IV, scene i]:
      We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, London: T. Passinger, p. 62,[9]
      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.
    • 1817 December, [Jane Austen], chapter VI, in Persuasion; published in Northanger Abbey: And Persuasion. [], volume (please specify |volume=I to IV), London: John Murray, [], 1818, OCLC 318384910:
      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,[10]
      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.

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Portuguese[edit]

Noun[edit]

trifle m (plural trifles)

  1. trifle (English dessert)