adjective triv·i·al \ˈtri-vē-əl\

Definition of trivial

  1. 1a :  of little worth or importance a trivial objection trivial problemsb :  relating to or being the mathematically simplest case; specifically :  characterized by having all variables equal to zero a trivial solution to a linear equation

  2. 2 :  commonplace, ordinary

  3. 3 :  specific 4


play \-ə-list\ noun


play \-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 Spark, Curriculum 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 Kincaid, Lucy, 1990

  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 Warren, Jefferson Davis Gets His Citizenship Back, 1980

  4. statistics and other trivial matters

  5. a trivial sum of money

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

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

First Known Use: 1589

TRIVIAL Defined for English Language Learners


adjective triv·i·al \ˈtri-vē-əl\

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

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

Seen and Heard

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


to criticize severely

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