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

Keep scrolling for more

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 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.
See More

Recent Examples on the Web

The spokesman described the relinquishment as trivial. Micah Maidenberg, WSJ, "Miners Cut Back in Largest U.S. Coal Region," 31 Dec. 2018 For a woman of Hayek’s accomplishments, such trivial jealousies are not to be taken seriously. Elizabeth Day, Town & Country, "Salma Hayek Isn't Going to Let Anyone Define Her," 6 Mar. 2019 Bandersnatch allows viewers to make film-altering choices, which range from trivial (pick the protagonist's breakfast) to plot-altering (choose whether to take medication), by using remote controls on most streaming-video devices. Sam Machkovech, Ars Technica, "Not Bander-snatched: Black Mirror confirms fifth season plans," 28 Dec. 2018 Machine learning has all kinds of nefarious and trivial applications, but one of the most useful and terrific has been the rise of quick and cheap transcription tools. Eric Limer, Popular Mechanics, "Finally, the Robots Are Turning Phone Calls Into Text Chats," 3 Dec. 2018 His feats, however impressive, are trivial for a computer. James Taranto, WSJ, "How to Store Data Along Memory Lane," 18 Jan. 2019 If one of its most visible AI features is making such trivial mistakes, why should consumers trust the company’s other services? James Vincent, The Verge, "Google removes gendered pronouns from Gmail’s Smart Compose to avoid AI bias," 27 Nov. 2018 While editing a document or spreadsheet directly from a flash drive is trivial, that’s not the case for video, where the interface speed limits performance considerably. Mark Hachman, PCWorld, "SanDisk's Extreme Pro portable SSD is so fast you can edit video on it," 8 Jan. 2019 And yet the scale of the veneration of the Ganges makes the Jordan seem trivial by comparison. Tunku Varadarajan, WSJ, "‘Unruly Waters’ and ‘Ganges’ Review: In India, Water Is Politics," 4 Jan. 2019

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.

See More

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

Keep scrolling for more

Learn More about trivial

Listen to Our Podcast about trivial

Statistics for trivial

Last Updated

8 May 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trivial

The first known use of trivial was in 1589

See more words from the same year

Keep scrolling for more

More Definitions for trivial



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.

Keep scrolling for more

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 sum of money that is sent as a payment

Get Word of the Day daily email!

Test Your Vocabulary

Time Traveler Quiz: Which Word Came First?

  • time traveler quiz which word came first
  • Which came first?
How Strong Is Your Vocabulary?

Test your vocabulary with our 10-question quiz!


Test Your Knowledge - and learn some interesting things along the way.

Love words? Need even more definitions?

Subscribe to America's largest dictionary and get thousands more definitions and advanced search—ad free!