The Meaning of Trivial: What It Is and How To Use It

Do you know the definition of trivial? This article will provide you with all of the information you need on the word trivial, including its definition, etymology, usage, example sentences, and more!

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What does the word trivial mean?

According to Merriam-Webster, the American Heritage Unabridged Dictionary of the English Language, and Collins English Dictionary, the word trivial is an adjective that describes something that is of little worth or importance, or something that is commonplace or ordinary. The word trivial has three syllables – triv-i-al, and the pronunciation of trivial is tri-vē-əl. Many things can be trivial, including a trivial mind, trivial complaints, a trivial objection, trivial conversation, a trivial name, trivial problems, or a trivial solution.

In math, this refers to the solution of an equation or the solutions of a set of homogeneous equations that have zero values for all the variables. One might discover this through a theorem or proof. In biology and chem, this denotes the specific name of an organism or name of a species in binomial nomenclature. This denotes the popular name of an organism or substance, as opposed to the scientific one, per Dictionary. In chemistry, this can also refer to the names of chemical compounds that are derived from a natural source, or that are of historic origin, and not according to the systematic nomenclature.

There are also numerous different languages that contain words that mean the same thing as the word trivial. You may notice that some of these words look similar to the English word trivial. This is because both of these words likely have a similar or the same origin. These are called cognates. Many languages that are Latin in origin have many cognates, or words that wound and mean similar things. This list of translations of trivial is provided by Word Sense.

  •  Japanese: つまらない‎ (tsumaranai), 些細‎, 末梢的‎, 枝葉‎
  •  Estonian: tühine‎
  •  Finnish: mitätön‎, triviaali‎
  •  Portuguese: trivial‎
  •  French: trivial‎, anodin‎ (masc.)
  •  Georgian: უმნიშვნელო‎, ტრივიალური‎
  •  Maori: meroiti‎, kūrapa‎
  •  Latin: levis‎ (masc.)
  •  Swedish: trivial‎, enkel‎
  •  Catalan: trivial‎
  •  Hungarian: jelentéktelen‎
  •  Spanish: trivial‎
  •  Polish: trywialny‎, błahy‎
  •  Serbo-Croatian: trivijalan‎
  •  Italian: insignificante‎
  •  Russian: незначи́тельный‎, ме́лкий‎, ничто́жный‎
  •  Greek: ασήμαντος‎, τιποτένιος‎ (masc.), μηδαμινός‎ (masc.)
  •  Scottish Gaelic: suarach‎
  •  Czech: bezvýznamný‎
  •  Mandarin: 無價值‎, 无价值‎ (wú jiàzhí)

How can the word trivial be used in a sentence?

The word trivial can be used in many different ways in various sentences. Try using this word of the day in a sentence today! Below are a few examples of trivial to get you started. 

The police officer argued with the homeless man when he saw him steal a sandwich from the trash. The homeless man argued that it was a trivial debate – it is of little substance, and he was sure the officer had bigger worries than a dispute over a free meal from the garbage.

Nora’s boss told her that her copyright presentation for Random House and Harpercollins publishers needed significant changes and that she would be required to stay late, but when Nora saw the notes, she discovered only trivial, superficial editorial changes. She felt her boss was trying to guilt trip her and teach her a lesson.

Her father felt she was a trivial young woman, only going after petty enterprises and receiving a fiddling sum of money. He felt she should be trying to build a life for herself, but she wanted to have fun while she was young. 

What is the origin of trivial?

According to Etymonline, the word trivial has been used since c16 in Late Middle English trivialle to mean ordinary, insignificant or trifling, in the 1580s and 1590s, respectively. This comes from the Latin trivialis/Latin triviālis, literally meaning “belonging to the crossroads or public streets” from the Latin trivium meaning the place where three roads meet. This has a transferred use of an open place or public place. This comes from the prefix tri meaning three and via meaning road. This connection is “public,” hence the meaning of common or commonplace. The earliest English use was in Middle English in c15. This, however, was a separate usage, meaning the academic sense “of the trivium crossroads, street corner” referring to the first three liberal arts — grammar, rhetoric, and logic. This comes from the Medieval Latin use of trivialis/Medieval Latin triviālis. One can add the suffixes ly, ize, ist, and ity, to make the related words trivially (adv.), trivialize (v.), triviality (n.) trivialist (n.) and trivia (n.)

What are synonyms and antonyms of trivial?

There are many different words that one can use in place of the word trivial that have a similar or the same meaning. These words and phrases are known as synonyms. Synonyms are a very useful English grammatical device to know because they can help people avoid repeating themselves while also growing their vocabulary. This list of synonyms for the word trivial is provided by Thesaurus

  •  nonessential
  •  irrelevant
  •  negligible
  •  evanescent
  •  of no account
  •  everyday
  •  commonplace
  •  atomic
  •  skin-deep
  •  puny
  •  beside the point
  •  minute
  •  incidental
  •  insignificant
  •  worthless
  •  petty
  •  flimsy
  •  inconsiderable
  •  diminutive
  •  valueless
  •  trifling
  •  frivolous
  •  meager
  •  nugatory
  •  mean
  •  slight
  •  small
  •  meaningless
  •  microscopic
  •  inappreciable
  •  paltry
  •  little
  •  piddling
  •  inconsequential
  •  vanishing
  •  scanty
  •  immaterial
  •  superficial
  •  unimportant
  •  minor
  •  trite
  •  momentary

There are also numerous different words that have the opposite meaning of the word trivial. These opposite words are known as antonyms. Antonyms are also very useful to know to expand a person’s vocabulary. This list of antonyms for the word trivial is also provided by Thesaurus.

  •  something
  •  material
  •  conspicuous
  •  large
  •  primary
  •  front-page
  •  meaningful
  •  importunate
  •  great
  •  grave
  •  critical
  •  serious
  •  exigent
  •  big-league
  •  valuable
  •  of note
  •  earnest
  •  salient
  •  considerable
  •  vital
  •  influential
  •  imperative
  •  principal
  •  signal
  •  substantial
  •  momentous
  •  weighty
  •  relevant
  •  big
  •  chief
  •  standout
  •  decisive
  •  significant
  •  essential
  •  necessary
  •  paramount
  •  determining
  •  far-reaching
  •  marked
  •  esteemed
  •  urgent
  •  heavy
  •  pressing
  •  extensive
  •  exceptional
  •  of substance
  •  mattering much
  •  of moment
  •  crucial
  •  ponderous
  •  foremost
  •  important

Overall, the word trivial refers to something that has little worth or importance, or is commonplace. This is also a term in math, biology, and chemistry. 


  1. trivial: meaning, origin, translation | Word Sense 
  2. TRIVIAL Synonyms: 58 Synonyms & Antonyms for TRIVIAL | Thesaurus 
  3. trivial | Origin and meaning of trivial | Online Etymology Dictionary 
  4. IMPORTANT Synonyms: 140 Synonyms & Antonyms for IMPORTANT | Thesaurus 
  5. Trivial | Definition of Trivial | Merriam-Webster
  6. Trivial | Definition of Trivial |