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tri·​dent ˈtrī-dᵊnt How to pronounce trident (audio)
: a 3-pronged spear serving in classical mythology as the attribute of a sea god (such as Neptune)
: a 3-pronged spear (as for fishing)


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: having three teeth, processes, or points

Did you know?

A trident has three prongs or teeth, as the root dent, "tooth", tells us. The trident has long been used to spear fish in different parts of the world, so there's no mystery about why the Greek sea god Poseidon and his Roman counterpart Neptune both carry a trident as their symbol. In some gladiator exhibitions in ancient Rome, one gladiator, called a retiarius ("net man"), would be equipped as though he were a fisherman, with a weighted net and a trident; with his net he would snare his sword-wielding opponent, and with his trident he would spear his helpless foe.

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web
More of the plot was shared, including that Black Manta (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II ) — using a Black trident that gives him greater powers — is threatening the surface world, with Aquaman needing to team up with his brother Orm (Patrick Wilson) to stop him. Aaron Couch, The Hollywood Reporter, 25 Apr. 2023 When the Domotos lost their property — which once spanned 48 acres — during the Depression, Kanetaro’s eldest son, Toichi, brought the trident maple to his own nursery in nearby Hayward, but by 1942 the family was imprisoned at Colorado’s Amache internment camp. New York Times, 9 Nov. 2021 Time to get out the prongs of Holt’s trident. Brian Tallerico, Vulture, 19 Aug. 2021 The Inside Story Of Papa John's Toxic Culture Managing Your Personal Finances As A Business Owner Sacai Demonstrates A More Polished Collection Aimed At Attracting A Larger Retail Customer To be mentioned in the same breath as the members of the holy 'MSN' trident puts Raphinha in lofty company. Tom Sanderson, Forbes, 8 Mar. 2023 Cherkonov, wearing a green hat and red beard to ward off the cold, and a blue and yellow Ukrainian trident tattooed on the left side of his neck to signify his loyalty. Scott Peterson, The Christian Science Monitor, 8 Mar. 2023 The researchers assumed the trident-toting trilobites were males, but no Walliserops females have been conclusively identified. Teresa Nowakowski, Smithsonian Magazine, 19 Jan. 2023 The outfit was topped with a trident and blue wig. Natasha Dado,, 11 Dec. 2021 The trident that is the company’s emblem is a replica of the one found in the Fountain of Neptune in Bologna. Nick Vivarelli, Variety, 8 Mar. 2023
In early April, Pacific closed its acquisition of the Trident fish meal plant, which converts fish waste to fish food. Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, 12 May 2017 Time is of the essence: The commercial season for Pacific whiting, the kind of fish the Trident plant in Newport is equipped to process, opens Monday. Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/oregonlive,, 12 May 2017 Today, American Ohio-class and British Vanguard-class submarines are equipped with a sixth-generation Trident weapons system. David Hambling, Popular Mechanics, 13 Feb. 2017 See More

These examples are programmatically compiled from various online sources to illustrate current usage of the word 'trident.' Any opinions expressed in the examples do not represent those of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback about these examples.

Word History



Latin trident-, tridens, from trident-, tridens having three teeth, from tri- + dent-, dens tooth — more at tooth


Latin trident-, tridens

First Known Use


15th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1


1589, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of trident was in the 15th century

Dictionary Entries Near trident

Cite this Entry

“Trident.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 3 Jun. 2023.

Kids Definition


: a spear with three prongs
trident adjective


from Latin trident-, tridens "trident," from tridens (adjective) "having three teeth," from tri- "three" and dens "tooth" — related to dental

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