1. originally, a trifling or fictitious tale, a jest; later, a trifle; a thing of little or no worth or importance ...c1395 obs. exc. Eng. dial.
2. a light or flimsy article of dress; perhaps a kerchief of fine material ...1463 obs.
3. an insignificant person ...c1635 obs. rare
4. a fit of idleness ...Bk1883 Eng. dial.
5. a whim, a fancy; fussiness ...Bk1905 Eng. dial.
1. to pilfer, to steal articles of small value ...1785 Eng. dial.
2. to trifle, to waste time, or spend it in doing trifling things; to idle or loaf; to work at a slow pace ...Bk1790 Eng. dial.
3. to talk folly...Bk1862
4. to walk with short steps ...Bk1905 Eng. dial.
of uncertain origin;
possibly an influence from trifle;
Hensleigh Wedgwood in 'A Dictionary of English Etymology (1862)', suggests it's from the Norman niveloter (to amuse oneself with trifles)
FIRST DOCUMENTED USE
c1395 - see EXAMPLE below
"...He planed awey the names euerichon
That he biforn hadde writen in his tables
He serued hem with nyfles and with fables
Nay ther thow lixt thow Somnour quod the frere
Pees quod oure hoost for cristes moder deere..."
From: The Summoner's Tale
- Geoffrey Chaucer