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I guess I never really considered it, and I also admit that regionalities creep into my speech that I would never write down, but I was taken aback at the blank stares I was met with when I told the coworker who asked me to order a pizza for him that he was trifling.

I know the accepted definition of trifle, which is an unimportant or frivolous thing, and the usage that you shouldn’t trifle with someone, implying a lack of seriousness in demeanor/ relationship. (And a delicious British dessert, too.) But I’ve grown up my whole life hearing trifling–or, more accurately in the southern vernacular, triflin’–to mean someone lazy, no-account, pathetic, and possibly shady.

My yankee-transplant coworkers, however, think me mad. (Not the first time, certainly, and probably not the last.)

A quick google for “trifling southern vernacular,” “southern trifling,” and just plain “trifling” turns up nothing useful. I can’t specifically recall coming across the term in any of the classic southern lit I’ve read, but I don’t know that I haven’t either. Now it’s totally bugging me.

Where is a linguist when I need one?