• synonyms


  1. of little worth; trifling; piddling: piffling efforts.
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Origin of piffling

First recorded in 1890–95; piffle + -ing2


[pif-uh l]Informal.
  1. nonsense, as trivial or senseless talk.
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verb (used without object), pif·fled, pif·fling.
  1. to talk nonsense.
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Origin of piffle

First recorded in 1840–50; perhaps akin to puff
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Examples from the Web for piffling

Historical Examples

  • Maybe it's only a piffling pocket, and we'll get souped for our pains.

    The Trail of '98

    Robert W. Service

  • Earthly marriages are piffling in comparison with that ceremony.

    The Skylark of Space

    Edward Elmer Smith and Lee Hawkins Garby

  • He might as well have sat by his fire and read a piffling novel.

    Black Oxen

    Gertrude Franklin Horn Atherton

  • Piffling business, I call it, this interfering with private correspondence.

  • Second, I asked myself: What reason has she for pretending to be that piffling lunatic?

    The Title

    Arnold Bennett

British Dictionary definitions for piffling


  1. worthless, trivial
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  1. nonsenseto talk piffle
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  1. (intr) to talk or behave feebly
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Word Origin

C19: origin uncertain
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012

Word Origin and History for piffling



1847, of unknown origin, perhaps an alteration of trifle, by influence of piddle, etc. Or perhaps imitative of a puff of air, with a diminutive suffix. As a noun by 1890.

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Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper