triv·i·al | \ˈtri-vē-əl \

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 \ noun
trivially \ˈtri-vē-ə-lē \ 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

Why would Colangelo risk a million-dollar job, his reputation and credibility on something as trivial as Twitter? Jeff Zillgitt, USA TODAY, "76ers executive Bryan Colangelo's reputation, job at stake over Twitter scandal," 30 May 2018 This has lead to the prevalence of game engines (and games) that are almost trivial to release on console and PC. David Grossman, Popular Mechanics, "Microsoft Might Add Mouse and Keyboard Support to the Xbox," 26 June 2018 For reasons not readily apparent, grappling with his own cosmic insignificance makes a Weird Dad more invested in seemingly trivial matters, not less. Jen Gann, The Cut, "Watching My Husband Become a Weird Dad," 14 June 2018 But an attorney for Republican Robin Engel said his client acted appropriately and that the allegations of financial gain are too trivial to be considered a violation of the city's ethics code. Phillip M. Bailey, The Courier-Journal, "Metro councilman accused of altering plan to get a fence at his home," 17 May 2018 Granted, the fate of a missing artwork, even a King memorial, may be a trivial matter compared to the city's-and the nation's-escalating affordable housing crisis. Jeff Huebner, Chicago Reader, "What ever happened to the King Memorial Mural at 43rd and Langley?," 24 Apr. 2018 When cities and states empower police officers to stop pedestrians for the most trivial crime imaginable, unnecessary conflicts are bound to occur. Matt Ford, The New Republic, "More than two dozen criminal cases have been dropped because a police officer beat a jaywalker.," 13 Mar. 2018 That is part of the toxic culture that says women don’t trust other women and compete with them over the most trivial matters. Karla Peterson,, "New SDSU study finds men still rule Hollywood," 10 Jan. 2018 With Facebook there, knowing what was going on on the weekend was trivial. Adam Fisher, WIRED, "Sex, Beer, and Coding: Inside Facebook’s Wild Early Days," 10 July 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

9 Oct 2018

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for trivial

The first known use of trivial was in 1589

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More Definitions for trivial



English Language Learners Definition of trivial

: not important


triv·i·al | \ˈtri-vē-əl \

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

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


a state of commotion or excitement

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