triv·​i·​al | \ ˈtri-vē-əl How to pronounce trivial (audio) \

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 How to pronounce trivialist (audio) \ noun
trivially \ ˈtri-​vē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce trivially (audio) \ 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 the mathematically simplest case, but the rest of us tend to use it just to mean "unimportant." "Small talk" at a party, for example, is usually trivial conversation. To trivialize something is to treat it as if it doesn't matter, as if it is 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 When the investigation with his statements was released to SWAT commanders, Colomey was treated with hostility and criticized for trivial matters, the suit says. Fox News, "LAPD 'SWAT Mafia' encouraged deadly force and retaliation, officer's lawsuit claims," 30 July 2020 The couples know their suffering is trivial compared to others. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "These couples want the same right as married couples when crossing the border," 2 July 2020 Nevertheless, in Sullivan’s view, the work of activists is essentially over, and the problems that remain are trivial. Osita Nwanevu, The New Republic, "The Willful Blindness of Reactionary Liberalism," 6 July 2020 The couples know their suffering is trivial compared to others. Jamie L. Lareau, Detroit Free Press, "These couples want the same right as married couples when crossing the border," 2 July 2020 Hopefully the pandemic hasn’t so numbed lawmakers to death that those numbers seem trivial. Kate Aronoff, The New Republic, "The Limits of Democrats’ Climate Progress," 9 July 2020 The topics discussed back then seem trivial now, such as the destination for Michigan’s annual foreign excursion that never took place because of the coronavirus pandemic. Rainer Sabin, Detroit Free Press, "Michigan football questions are plenty; Jim Harbaugh has to answer them," 8 July 2020 The couples know their suffering is trivial compared to others. Jamie L. Lareau, USA TODAY, "She hasn't seen her Canadian boyfriend in months. They want the same border rights as married couples.," 3 July 2020 To others, not being able to continue with laser hair removal is trivial. Jacqueline Kilikita,, "5 Trans Women On Their Beauty Routines In Quarantine," 3 July 2020

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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Time Traveler for trivial

Time Traveler

The first known use of trivial was in 1589

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Statistics for trivial

Last Updated

7 Aug 2020

Cite this Entry

“Trivial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Aug. 2020.

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More Definitions for trivial


How to pronounce trivial (audio)

English Language Learners Definition of trivial

: not important


triv·​i·​al | \ ˈtri-vē-əl How to pronounce trivial (audio) \

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

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