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 trivial (audio) \ noun
trivially \ ˈtri-​vē-​ə-​lē How to pronounce trivial (audio) \ adverb

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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 Yet that decrease is trivial, Dr. Moore said: For comparison, there is a more than 100-fold difference in the antibody levels among healthy individuals. Apoorva Mandavilli, New York Times, 22 Sep. 2021 Compared to Chris Mack recording himself asking for assurances while being extorted by Dino Gaudio, the Peterson saga is trivial, almost comical. Tim Sullivan, The Courier-Journal, 15 Sep. 2021 But while the fine was trivial, the rest of the decision was not. Gilad Edelman, Wired, 15 Sep. 2021 There were no foreign tourists to fuel the local economy, none of that warmth that comes when people from various parts of the world share drinks and unite under something as trivial as sports. Dylan Hernández Columnist, Los Angeles Times, 8 Aug. 2021 How did something as trivial as being charged for less ice in my coffee strike such a nerve in me? Breeanna Hare, CNN, 31 July 2021 His outing was made comfortable by a Red Sox offense that built upon its many first-half lessons in the way that exploiting another team’s missteps — even something as trivial as a foul tip — can alter the course of a game. BostonGlobe.com, 16 July 2021 In fact, duplicated (and perhaps even duplicitous) data often exposes problems in the on-premises pre-cloud world through a process as trivial as the hours spent locating a document. Adrian Bridgwater, Forbes, 5 July 2021 In practice, this can be something as trivial as liking a Facebook post. Lois Mclatchie, National Review, 27 June 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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Dictionary Entries Near trivial

trivia

trivial

trivialise

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Last Updated

7 Oct 2021

Cite this Entry

“Trivial.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/trivial. Accessed 17 Oct. 2021.

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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.

More from Merriam-Webster on trivial

Nglish: Translation of trivial for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of trivial for Arabic Speakers

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