[ triv-ee-uhl ]
/ 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.

Nearby words

  1. trivalent,
  2. trivalve,
  3. trivandrum,
  4. trivet,
  5. trivia,
  6. trivial name,
  7. trivialism,
  8. triviality,
  9. trivialize,
  10. trivially

Origin of trivial

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 formstriv·i·al·ly, adverbsu·per·triv·i·al, adjectiveun·triv·i·al, adjectiveun·triv·i·al·ly, adverb Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for trivial

British Dictionary definitions for trivial


/ (ˈtrɪvɪəl) /


of little importance; petty or frivoloustrivial complaints
ordinary or commonplace; tritetrivial 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 Formstrivially, adverbtrivialness, noun

Word Origin for trivial

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

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