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 trivial (audio) \ noun
trivially \ ˈtri-​vē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce trivial (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 The impact on the federal budget of evasion on this scale isn’t trivial. Michael Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, "Column: Who are the biggest tax cheats? The 1% — and here’s how they get away with it," 23 Mar. 2021 The selection and serving of how-to knowledge articles by a VSA is not trivial. Uday Birajdar, Forbes, "What You Need To Know Before Investing In Virtual Support Agents," 17 Mar. 2021 Our conversations could be about trivial things instead of our stagnant situation. Herb Mccormick, Popular Science, "Five stories of sailors who weathered COVID-19 out at sea," 17 Aug. 2020 Sanders also takes issue with divisions between what's considered serious versus trivial news. David Oliver, USA TODAY, "Host Sam Sanders calls out NPR, media industry for lack of diversity: 'It doesn't sit well'," 24 Mar. 2021 That Lloyd isn’t easy to idolize paradoxically gives him and his work a power not granted to the idols—a resistance to the trivial force of commodification. Mark O’connell, The New York Review of Books, "Old Midlands Giants," 23 Mar. 2021 Shulem finds his son’s vocation silly, a trivial distraction from the pursuit of leading a serious Jewish life. Alexandra Schwartz, The New Yorker, "The Haredi Jewish Family of “Shtisel” Returns for a Third Season," 22 Mar. 2021 This is notable because the iPhone 12 mini was seemingly a disappointment, with multiple reports claiming that the smallest, cheapest model was accounting for a trivial percentage of total iPhone sales. Jacob Siegal, BGR, "Here’s when one insider says Apple’s iPhone 13 will be released in 2021," 22 Mar. 2021 For making poor grades, losing insignificant items or forgetting trivial information. USA Today, "Foster kids starved, beaten and molested, reports show. Few caregivers are punished.," 18 Mar. 2021

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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Last Updated

10 Apr 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trivial.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 10 Apr. 2021.

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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.

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Comments on trivial

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