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[triv-ee-uh l] /ˈtrɪv i əl/
of very little importance or value; insignificant:
Don't bother me with trivial matters.
commonplace; ordinary.
Biology. (of names of organisms) specific, as distinguished from generic.
  1. noting a solution of an equation in which the value of every variable of the equation is equal to zero.
  2. (of a theorem, proof, or the like) simple, transparent, or immediately evident.
Chemistry. (of names of chemical compounds) derived from the natural source, or of historic origin, and not according to the systematic nomenclature:
Picric acid is the trivial name of 2,4,6-trinitrophenol.
Origin of trivial
late Middle English
1400-50; late Middle English < Latin triviālis belonging to the crossroads or street corner, hence commonplace, equivalent to tri- tri- + vi(a) road + -ālis -al1
Related forms
trivially, adverb
supertrivial, adjective
untrivial, adjective
untrivially, adverb
1. unimportant, nugatory, slight, immaterial, inconsequential, frivolous, trifling. See petty.
1. important. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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Examples from the web for trivial
  • It was a decent business, although too trivial for major oil companies.
  • It is the body of which roads are the arms and legs-a trivial or quadrivial place, the thoroughfare and ordinary of travelers.
  • Honey is trivial compared with the importance of pollination.
  • It would be well, if all our lives were a divine tragedy even, instead of this trivial comedy or farce.
  • For now, the technology is available in limited form and in somewhat trivial applications.
  • But these queries really are trivial, compared to the immense significance of the book itself.
  • Avoid disagreeing over the trivial parts of your opponent's position, and instead focus on the telling points.
  • It is clear that higher education needs to be rethought, and not in a trivial sense.
  • Most of those patterns are trivial enough so that two weeks to two months of practice should be sufficient.
  • In my view, it's a trivial statement which means far less that it appears.
British Dictionary definitions for trivial


of little importance; petty or frivolous: trivial complaints
ordinary or commonplace; trite: trivial conversation
(maths) (of the solutions of a set of homogeneous equations) having zero values for all the variables
(biology) denoting the specific name of an organism in binomial nomenclature
(biology, chem) denoting the popular name of an organism or substance, as opposed to the scientific one
of or relating to the trivium
Derived Forms
trivially, adverb
trivialness, noun
Word Origin
C15: from Latin triviālis belonging to the public streets, common, from trivium crossroads, junction of three roads, from tri- + via road
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for trivial

"ordinary" (1580s); "insignificant" (1590s), from Latin trivialis "common, commonplace, vulgar," literally "of or belonging to the crossroads," from trivium "place where three roads meet," in transferred use, "an open place, a public place," from tri- "three" (see three) + via "road" (see via). The sense connection is "public," hence "common, commonplace."

The earliest use of the word in English was early 15c., a separate borrowing in the academic sense "of the trivium" (the first three liberal arts); from a Medieval Latin use of trivialis in the sense "of the trivium," from trivium as neuter of the Latin adjective trivius "of three roads." Cf. trivia. Related: Trivially. The board game Trivial Pursuit was released 1982 and was a craze in U.S. for several years thereafter.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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