A raspberry trifle (1)


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


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


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
    • c. 1604, William Shakespeare, Othello, Act III, Scene 3,[1]
      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,[2]
      Olde Chaucer doth of Topas tell,
      Mad Rablais of Pantagruell,
      A latter third of Dowsabell,
      With such poore trifles playing:
    • 1722, Daniel Defoe, The fortunes and misfortunes of the famous Moll Flanders, London, p. 34,[3]
      [] 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,[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.
  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.

Derived termsEdit



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, William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act IV, Scene 1,[19]
      We trifle time: I pray thee, pursue sentence.
    • 1677, Hannah Woolley, The Compleat Servant-Maid, London: T. Passinger, p. 62,[20]
      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, Chapter 6,[21]
      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,[22]
      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.



See alsoEdit




trifle m (plural trifles)

  1. trifle (English dessert)