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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. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for trivially
Historical Examples
  • They had to use the great pieces of general ideas, but they exchanged them trivially.

    Within the Tides Joseph Conrad
  • So he put it, trivially, to himself, and he felt the need of clinging to triviality.

    Adrienne Toner Anne Douglas Sedgwick
  • My conscience hurts when I remember how trivially I began it.

  • trivially or greatly, as the case may be, he has been seeking to interpret life.

    Tragedy Ashley H. Thorndike
  • The funeral procession by Willette may hang; his Montmartre things are trivially indecent.

    The Imitator Percival Pollard
  • I was in Yorkshire last season when what is trivially called "the cold snap" came upon us.

    All on the Irish Shore E. Somerville and Martin Ross
  • Life is great that is trivially transmitted; love is great that is vulgarly experienced.

    The Rhythm of Life Alice Meynell
British Dictionary definitions for trivially


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 trivially



"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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