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  • Christine Bernard

How Good Are You At Trivia?

Updated: Sep 25, 2023

The etymology of the word trivia

A sign outside that says TRIVIA NIGHT

Do you consider yourself to be a trivia king / queen? Are you someone who collects facts in the way others might collect mugs?


Well, do you know where the word trivia comes from?

What does trivia actually mean?

‘Trivia’ comes from the Latin ‘trivialis,’ meaning “found everywhere, commonplace.” One meaning of ‘trivia’ is “unimportant matters.” The literal meaning of the Latin trivium is “a place where three roads meet.”

What is the etymology of the word trivia?

Trivia has two meanings, of which could be seen in contrast to each other. In one sense it is information that is considered to have little value. In another sense it is thought of as general knowledge and common sense.

The Latin word triviae became the English word trivial in the 15th century. And the word we use today, trivia, dates back to the 1960s when college students introduced question-and-answer contests to their universities. When the boardgame, Trivial Pursuit, was released in 1982, the idea of trivia was already well-established.

Fun fact

Did you know Trivia was the name of a book about streets and crossroads published in 1716 (Walking the Streets of Eighteenth-Century London: John Gay’s Trivia). Then, in 1902, Logan Pearsall Smith published a series of books called Trivia. I found it on Amazon and had a good chuckle at the comments. Most people were expecting the sort of thing we would consider trivia today. Instead, his books were full of interesting observations about public life and human behaviour. Definitely a book I wouldn’t mind getting myself.

Source: Meriam-Webster, Wikipedia, Useless Etymology

Did you enjoy this?

I have more. Find out about the origins of these words:


Love words? You probably love books then. Go on, take a look at mine!

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