Merriam-Webster Word of the Day: Trivial

The Merriam-Webster Word of the Day is trivial. Read on for what it means, how it’s used, and more.

What It Means

Trivial means “of little worth or importance.”

// Although her parents dismissed her love of pop music as trivial, she relied on the inspirational messages of many songs to help her through difficult times.

TRIVIAL in Context

“Urged on by co-founders Jim VandeHei and John Harris to ‘win the morning,’ Politico’s reporters and editors covered Washington high and low, devoting space in their influential email newsletters to presidential campaigns and more trivial details like birthdays of prominent local figures.” — Benjamin Mullin and Katie Robertson, The New York Times, 3 May 2022

Did You Know?

When English speakers adopted the word trivial from Latin trivialis in the 16th century, they used it to mean just what its Latin ancestor meant: “found everywhere, commonplace.” But the source of trivialis is about something more specific: trivium, from tri- (three) and via (way), means “crossroads; place where three roads meet.” The link between the two presumably has to do with the commonplace sorts of things a person is likely to encounter at a busy crossroads. Today, the English word typically describes something barely worth mentioning. Such judgments are, of course, subjective; feel free to mention this bit of trivia to anyone and everyone who crosses your path.

Leave a Reply