triv·​i·​al | \ˈtri-vē-əl \

Definition of trivial 

1a : of little worth or importance a trivial objection trivial problems

b : relating to or being the mathematically simplest case specifically : characterized by having all variables equal to zero a trivial solution to a linear equation

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Other Words from trivial

trivialist \ˈtri-​vē-​ə-​list \ noun
trivially \ˈtri-​vē-​ə-​lē \ adverb

Did You Know?

Trivial comes from a Latin word meaning "crossroads"—that is, where three roads come together. Since a crossroads is a very public place where all kinds of people might show up, trivialis came to mean "commonplace" or "vulgar". Today the English word has changed slightly in meaning and instead usually describes something barely worth mentioning. Mathematicians use the word to refer to some part of a proof or definition that's extremely simple and needn't be explained, but the rest of us tend to use it just to mean "unimportant". "Small talk" at a party, for example, is usually trivial conversation, though a trivial excuse for not going on a date ("I have to wash my hair") might hide an emotion that isn't so trivial ("I can't stand the sight of you"). To trivialize something is to treat it as if it didn't matter, as if it were just another triviality.

Examples of trivial in a Sentence

His later memory, untutored and unsupported by anything so trivial as evidence or documents, now flourished and ran wild. — Muriel Spark, Curriculum Vitae, (1992) 1993 I had never heard anyone speak of their parents in this way; I never even knew you could make them seem trivial — Jamaica Kincaid, Lucy, 1990 But the last tribute was to be a struggle among states for possession of the trivial remains of a man who in life had known as much revilement as honor. — Robert Penn Warren, Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back, 1980 statistics and other trivial matters a trivial sum of money Compared to her problems, our problems seem trivial.
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Recent Examples on the Web

Google chose the latter, justifying it on the grounds that editing shadows back in is trivial compared to trying to edit detail into shadows. Vlad Savov, The Verge, "Google gives the Pixel camera superhuman night vision," 14 Nov. 2018 Just as its characters have moved on from more trivial questions about what’s right or wrong in the post-apocalypse, so has the show. Nick Statt, The Verge, "The Walking Dead is finally tackling morality like it’s smarter than a comic book," 15 Oct. 2018 How truly embarrassing for all the people who thought handbags were invented to carry around trivial necessities like your wallet, lipstick, and keys? Lauren Alexis Fisher, Harper's BAZAAR, "Gigi Hadid Carrying Nothing But a Bottle of Rosé in Her Bag Is a Real Mood," 10 Sep. 2018 The work is peak Piper — a personal experience, trivial and subjective in the scheme of things, transformed through the magic prism of art into something uncanny. Thomas Chatterton Williams, New York Times, "Adrian Piper’s Show at MoMA is the Largest Ever for a Living Artist. Why Hasn’t She Seen It?," 27 June 2018 Markets will be transfixed on that seemingly trivial question this week as Federal Reserve policymakers either maintain their median forecast for three interest rate hikes this year or bump it up to four. Paul Davidson, USA TODAY, "Anticipation over rate hike forecast from Federal Reserve tops economic news this week," 19 Mar. 2018 Sure, having Alexa as a car companion is great for hands-free music playback controls and answers to trivial questions about the forecast. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica, "Garmin Speak Plus review: Alexa is just a passive road-trip buddy," 28 Jan. 2018 Outbreaks of violence at the overcrowded refugee camp, often triggered by trivial disputes, are increasingly common. Fox News, "The Latest: Germany presents more restrictive migration plan," 10 July 2018 Had that been the case, El Tri would rightly have been looking up and onwards, at ways to topple the long-standing bluebloods of the game, rather than worrying about such trivial matters as local boasting. Martin Rogers, USA TODAY, "Why USMNT fans should celebrate Mexico's World Cup loss," 3 July 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'trivial.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of trivial

1589, in the meaning defined at sense 2

History and Etymology for trivial

Latin trivialis found everywhere, commonplace, from trivium crossroads, from tri- + via way — more at way

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Statistics for trivial

Last Updated

4 Dec 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trivial

The first known use of trivial was in 1589

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More Definitions for trivial



English Language Learners Definition of trivial

: not important


triv·​i·​al | \ˈtri-vē-əl \

Kids Definition of trivial

: of little worth or importance Don't get angry about trivial matters.

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More from Merriam-Webster on trivial

Thesaurus: All synonyms and antonyms for trivial

Spanish Central: Translation of trivial

Nglish: Translation of trivial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trivial for Arabic Speakers

Comments on trivial

What made you want to look up trivial? Please tell us where you read or heard it (including the quote, if possible).


a soft lustrous wool fabric with mohair

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