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[triv-ee-uh l] /ˈtrɪv i əl/
of very little importance or value; insignificant:
Don't bother me with trivial matters.
commonplace; ordinary.
Biology. (of names of organisms) specific, as distinguished from generic.
  1. noting a solution of an equation in which the value of every variable of the equation is equal to zero.
  2. (of a theorem, proof, or the like) simple, transparent, or immediately evident.
Chemistry. (of names of chemical compounds) derived from the natural source, or of historic origin, and not according to the systematic nomenclature:
Picric acid is the trivial name of 2,4,6-trinitrophenol.
Origin of trivial
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin triviālis belonging to the crossroads or street corner, hence commonplace, equivalent to tri- tri- + vi(a) road + -ālis -al1
Related forms
trivially, adverb
supertrivial, adjective
untrivial, adjective
untrivially, adverb
1. unimportant, nugatory, slight, immaterial, inconsequential, frivolous, trifling. See petty.
1. important. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2017.
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Examples from the Web for trivial
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • He blends the accurately literal and trivial with the immensely poetic.

    Sons and Lovers David Herbert Lawrence
  • The making of folkways is not trivial, although the acts are minute.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • The same principle applies to everything that is written, even to the most trivial paragraph.

  • The name of the play comes from this trivial incident in it.

    Folkways William Graham Sumner
  • Supposing that a fiddle was left behind, or a drum, or a rattle, why should the trivial fact be gravely recorded?

British Dictionary definitions for trivial


of little importance; petty or frivolous: trivial complaints
ordinary or commonplace; trite: trivial conversation
(maths) (of the solutions of a set of homogeneous equations) having zero values for all the variables
(biology) denoting the specific name of an organism in binomial nomenclature
(biology, chem) denoting the popular name of an organism or substance, as opposed to the scientific one
of or relating to the trivium
Derived Forms
trivially, adverb
trivialness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin triviālis belonging to the public streets, common, from trivium crossroads, junction of three roads, from tri- + via road
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
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Word Origin and History for trivial

"ordinary" (1580s); "insignificant" (1590s), from Latin trivialis "common, commonplace, vulgar," literally "of or belonging to the crossroads," from trivium "place where three roads meet," in transferred use, "an open place, a public place," from tri- "three" (see three) + via "road" (see via). The sense connection is "public," hence "common, commonplace."

The earliest use of the word in English was early 15c., a separate borrowing in the academic sense "of the trivium" (the first three liberal arts); from a Medieval Latin use of trivialis in the sense "of the trivium," from trivium as neuter of the Latin adjective trivius "of three roads." Cf. trivia. Related: Trivially. The board game Trivial Pursuit was released 1982 and was a craze in U.S. for several years thereafter.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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