trivial

adjective
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 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.
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Recent Examples on the Web

The result could be as trivial as a snapped pencil or as catastrophic as a bridge collapse. Bridget Alex, Discover Magazine, "What Science Says About Why You're Stressed and How to Cope," 21 June 2019 By comparison, our troubles with Putin’s Russia are trivial. Adam Tooze, The New York Review of Books, "Democracy and Its Discontents," 6 June 2019 This is trivial in comparison to some of the lingering questions, but Arya's boat to sail West, though gorgeous, seems like a waste of resources in a land that has to literally rebuild from ash and rubble, no? 10. Kayleigh Roberts, Marie Claire, "13 'Game of Thrones' Questions We Still Have After the Finale," 20 May 2019 Take care of priorities first or you risk getting bogged down with trivial issues. Tribune Content Agency, oregonlive.com, "Horoscope for June 15, 2019: Happy birthday to actress Helen Hunt; Cancer, you can always change your mind," 15 June 2019 Society engaged in far more rigorous debate over advancements that would seem trivial today—the introduction of car radios, for example, drew much more concern from the United States government. Darren Shou, WIRED, "The Next Big Privacy Hurdle? Teaching AI to Forget," 12 June 2019 There’s a neurological condition known as misophonia in which otherwise trivial sounds trigger anxiety and stress. Belinda Luscombe, Marie Claire, "Your Partner's Annoying Habits Are Pushing You to the Edge—Here's How Not to Break Up," 21 May 2019 Planning your next vacay around flowers may seem trivial, but trust me—your Instagram feed (and your nose) will thank you. Elizabeth Gulino, House Beautiful, "This Resort Has the Most Stunning Lilac Festival You’ll Ever See," 5 Apr. 2019 So trivial that the protons will arrive less than 1.3 seconds after the light. John Timmer, Ars Technica, "Why things can look like they’re moving faster than light," 9 Sep. 2018

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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Statistics for trivial

Last Updated

3 Jul 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trivial

The first known use of trivial was in 1589

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More Definitions for trivial

trivial

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of trivial

: not important

trivial

adjective
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

Comments on trivial

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