adjective triv·i·al \ ˈtri-vē-əl \
|Updated on: 14 Aug 2018

Definition of trivial

1 a : 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
3 : specific 4


play \ˈtri-vē-ə-list\ noun


play \ˈtri-vē-ə-lē\ adverb

Examples of trivial in a Sentence

  1. His later memory, untutored and unsupported by anything so trivial as evidence or documents, now flourished and ran wild. —Muriel SparkCurriculum Vitae(1992) 1993
  2. I had never heard anyone speak of their parents in this way; I never even knew you could make them seem trivial —Jamaica KincaidLucy1990
  3. 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 WarrenJefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back1980
  4. statistics and other trivial matters

  5. a trivial sum of money

  6. Compared to her problems, our problems seem trivial.

Recent Examples of trivial from the Web

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.

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.

Origin and Etymology of trivial

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

TRIVIAL Defined for English Language Learners


Definition of trivial for English Language Learners

  • : not important

TRIVIAL Defined for Kids


adjective triv·i·al \ ˈtri-vē-əl \

Definition of trivial for Students

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

Seen and Heard

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