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 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 As with Amazon Prime Day, the company has decided it isn’t bound by anything as trivial as calendars or time itself. Matthew De Silva, Quartz, "Black “Friday” now lasts an entire week," 20 Nov. 2019 Two curious wrinkles marked the first College Football Playoff rankings of 2019 on Tuesday night, as the selection committee put trivial dents in both the upcoming LSU-Alabama game and the proud-standing national champion, Clemson. Chuck Culpepper, The Denver Post, "In College Football Playoff committee’s first rankings, there’s a surprise No. 1," 6 Nov. 2019 One, by the House Oversight and Investigations Committee, found that three companies had rescinded 20,000 policies over the course of five years — sometimes for fraud but in some cases for trivial reasons. Mona Charen, National Review, "Elizabeth Warren Is Not Honest," 18 Oct. 2019 Part of life is finding things that matter to you, no matter how trivial is may seem to others. Ellis L. Williams, cleveland, "Browns drop third straight home game with loss to Seahawks: What they’re saying on social media," 14 Oct. 2019 This wasn’t a trivial slice of business; the U.S. government spends more than $50 billion on consumer goods each year. Franklin Foer, The Atlantic, "Jeff Bezos’s Master Plan," 10 Oct. 2019 Only a socialist could do that to his brother, only a socialist could regard familial ties as being so trivial as to shaft his own brother. Julia Webster, Time, "U.K. Prime Minister's Brother Resigns From Government: 'Torn Between Family Loyalty and the National Interest'," 5 Sep. 2019 Josh Rosen being put in there and the young guards getting further education are really the headliners of a trivial night. Dave Hyde,, "Hyde5: Do Dolphins have deal with Houston — but not with Clowney?," 29 Aug. 2019 Outsiders may view the alterations as trivial improvements to an area that should, like downtown San Diego or Coronado, absorb its fair share of additional access to public tidelands. San Diego Union-Tribune, "Your pier or mine? La Playa docks are dredging up big controversy in this upscale Shelter Island area," 24 Aug. 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.

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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

4 Dec 2019

Cite this Entry

“Trivial.” The Dictionary, Merriam-Webster Inc., Accessed 6 December 2019.

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More Definitions for trivial


How to pronounce trivial (audio)

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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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).


very cautious or careful

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